FLEXe has been a consortium in Finland gathering 27 organisations covering the entire value network of energy systems. The aim has been to create novel technological and business concepts enhancing the radical transition from the current energy systems towards sustainable systems. FLEXe combines smartness, flexibility, environmental performance and economic success with customer acceptance and engagement.

The research in FLEXe was funded by the companies, research organisations and Tekes Finnish funding agency for innovations during 2015 – 2016.

Energy systems are in a process of profound transformation which is driven by the need of significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, shift from oil to gas, rapid increase in energy demand, and globalization and the need to secure competitiveness. The transition to future energy systems requires huge investments worldwide in the coming decades in both energy production capacities as well as in transmission and distribution systems.

The energy system revolution will affect not only the technological choices in new investments but will change the way in which energy producers, operators, regulators and consumers interact in an increasingly complex market. The main drivers for these changes are the growing share of renewable and decentralized generation, the progressive increase in energy efficiency, the emergence of the consumer as an active player, and the appearance of new network users.

It is widely recognised that increasing the flexibility of energy systems is the key for the reliable operation of future energy systems with very high penetration levels of variable renewable energy sources. Flexibility is the ability of an energy system to maintain continuous service in the face of rapid and large swings in supply or demand.

Finding ways to increase energy system flexibility was in the core of all activities in FLEXe.

Topic 1: Market Transition

Systemic views on the transition to business ecosystems of a future flexible energy system – understanding future demand profiles and the role and value of different flexibility options

The topic looked at the system level – power and heat system and electricity markets – the expected changes in flexibility needs, the value of each flexibility option in different time scales and markets, and market models and business cases needed in the transition.

Topic 2: Enabler grids

Optimised and secured integration and operation of future energy networks

The key objective was to define the flexibility requirements for the planning and operation of integrated energy networks. This requires novel, high-quality, reliable and secured measurements, telecommunication, data processing and new technological platforms to be researched.

Topic 3: Prosumers

Flexibility management of distributed resources – increasing efficiency across the whole energy system and supporting active participation of all partners of the system

The key objective was to integrate the distributed resources to the energy system and harness the flexibility at the customer and prosumer side for the improved operation of the energy system. This enables extensive integration and maximal utilization of local and global intermittent energy sources.

Topic 4: Adaptive generation

Flexible generation for future energy system – new operational modes for secure, cost-effective, clean and competitive supply

The research targeted in gaining understanding in the requirements and limitations that the future energy system poses for flexible generation and how flexible power generation can overcome those limitations and meet the requirements.