The current and future increase of RES penetration in the system is mainly driven by the deployment of variable sources such as wind and solar power. Balancing variable renewables with flexible sources is becoming a more and more important element of the system operation, especially in markets with high VRE penetration. This requires special attention to flexible fleet but also enlarging control areas, better grid management, DSM options, aggregators and storage. Flexibility will play a key role in this respect. Among large-scale power stations, gas and hydro storage can perform fast ramping to follow a fluctuating (net) demand. Additional flexibility will have to emerge from small-scale, decentralised resources, demand response and storage – most notably at distribution level. This includes small- and large-scale batteries as well as chemical storage and Power-to-X technologies. Interconnections and regionalisation of power markets can also play a key role to fulfil flexibility requirements in particular when balancing markets are well-coordinated and coupled across national borders.
Given the decreasing market share of centralised power stations and the increasing share of intermittent resources such as wind and solar, there is a growing need to better understand (i) how much flexibility will be required in the future power system, (ii) what the most cost-efficient flexibility options are, (iii) which flexibility options could be used to satisfy our flexibility requirements in the most cost-effective way and (iv) how to eliminate existing barriers to flexibility increase in the European power systems. Barriers hindering the uptake of these flexibility options can be of technical, economic or regulatory nature. On the other hand, some flexibility options may simply not have reached technical maturity or economic feasibility. This is likely the case for some battery options. Yet, given the dynamically growing markets for electric vehicles, further technological and economic progress can be expected. Therefore, there is a constant need to monitor techno-economic aspects of these flexibility options in a systematic way. From a market design perspective, it is imperative to establish such market organisation that flexibility is priced and valued in the market and therefore, remunerated. This may include development of balancing- and ancillary services markets, also at regional level.
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