Development of flexibility by producers and distributors of drinking water with a view to ensuring balance on the electricity transmission network: assessment of Belgian potential and implementation
The development of renewable energies, while beneficial from an environmental point of view, creates many challenges from the point of view of the electrical system. Indeed, renewable energies of solar and wind types have the characteristic of being intermittent, which means they are not able to produce in a continuous way but according to the meteorological conditions. Unlike conventional power plants, they introduce at the level of electricity production a factor of unpredictability and inflexibility
Historically, fluctuations in demand were covered by flexible and controllable means of production, which at any time ensured a balance between supply and demand (electricity consumed) on the grid. Few flexibilities were thus requested to the electricity consumers, the offer followed the demand. With the increase of renewable energies in the energy mix, new approaches are needed. The flexibility of demand / load management is one of them, and more particularly that of drinking water producers and distributors, whose particularity lies in its numerous decentralized loads on the hydraulic network, as extensive as the electricity network. The current configuration of the operating sites of the drinking water producers and distributors could already be suitable for the support of the electricity grid but can still be adapted to further support the
problems of balance encountered by the network. The combination of a pumped-storage unit on the pumping sites and an electricity storage unit is an effective way to offer more flexibility to the network.
The integration of a renewable energy production unit must also be considered at the sites of exploitation to meet the objectives relating to the share of renewable energy that Belgium has set itself to achieve. The management of the balance on the network, whose amount of flexible energy to be supplied can be predicted by means of a suitable model, via the installations that could be counted on each of the exploitation sites of drinking water, can be assured by means of a management system that automatically directs the different flows of water and electricity in an optimal way.