Image: Viessmann

German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT is to pilot heat pumps and blockchain in providing flexibility to the national power grid.

Heat pumps are expected to play a key role in decarbonising heating and with large scale rollout thus offer the potential to support management of the grid.

TenneT in partnership with German heating and cooling solutions provider Viessmann is launching a pilot to test this proposition. The aim of the ViFlex pilot is to combine heat pumps and electricity storage to form a virtual power plant to test in the management of congestion.

Heat pumps are optimised via Viessmann ViCare app. Their schedule is synchronised with TenneT’s requirements and, when possible, operation is shifted to times when the feed-in of renewable electricity would have to be reduced, for example by shutting down wind turbines due to congestion in the electricity grid. Instead, by allowing heat pumps bundled in virtual power plants to take up the electricity, these then relieve that load on the grid.

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The solution will be optimised via the Equigy blockchain crowd balancing platform.

TenneT and other TSOs developed the Equigy platform to enable customers with large numbers of small flexibility devices to participate in energy service markets.

In turn the platform was evolved from an earlier blockchain-based flexibility pilot TenneT undertook with storage provider Sonnen.

Viessmann’s heat pumps use technology that can be operated with 100% renewable electricity and is able, with smart control, to respond flexibly to the demands of the electricity grid.

Participating customers are required to take out an electricity tariff in the ViShare Energy Community. Participants’ heat pumps are optimised in such a way that a premium is provided to TenneT for congestion management without any loss of comfort.

Consumers participating in the pilot are expected to save “significantly” on their electricity costs, a statement says, although these aren’t quantified.