Belgium preps for energy transition with blockchain, AI and other innovations

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In its Towards a Consumer-Centric System paper, Belgian grid operator Elia has outlined the kind of measures the country’s energy system needs to enable its transition towards an integrated European market with renewables and prosumers at its core.

The document’s authors point to three main actions needed to accompany the transition: the creation of a real-time platform to share data between users and system operators and market parties – to allow all parties to receive consumption and injection data for their respective activities; an upgraded electricity market design which can link between consumer behavior in the lower voltage levels and price signals in the wholesale electricity market; and the adoption of technologies such as blockchain, the internet of things, cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence, that can help manage complex system operation with more bidirectional electricity flows.

“To keep the system in balance, demand for electricity will increasingly have to be geared to expected generation,” the grid operator said.

Blockchain is cited as a technology that may improve, among other things, the way net metering and other data are stored and used.

“Digital technologies will help to bridge the gap between the important role prosumers have to play and their natural disinterest in the intricacies of the energy system,” Elia added. “Moreover, the expected sharp reduction in cost of power technologies such as PV, batteries and electric vehicles – together with the digitalization at the hands of consumers, through digital meters [and] local intelligence – will make energy more than simple kilowatt-hours: energy becomes a service.”

According to a report published by Elia last November, Belgium’s cumulative installed PV capacity may grow from around 3.5 GW at the end of 2017 to as much as 18 GW in 2040.