Flexibility is a requirement inherent in all power systems. In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on how to manage flexibility. The current transformation of the European and global power system towards a fully sustainable and renewable production mix will put large challenges on the transmission system operators (TSOs) to maintain a good quality of supply. All analyses indicate that non-dispatchable and intermittent renewable energy sources (wind and PV solar in particular) will be a key component of the energy mix for the coming decades. Demand side flexibility and chemical storage solutions may alleviate parts of the challenges. However, both existing and new hydropower plants represent an important source of flexibility. A further increase of the flexibility of hydropower will thus increase its value in a future energy system.
The goal of the HydroFlex project is to develop new technology permitting highly flexible operation of hydropower stations. Flexibility of operation here means large ramping rates, frequent start-stops and possibilities to provide a large range of system services (frequency regulation, voltage regulation, black start capability, synchronous condenser operation, spinning reserve etc.). All this within (strict) excellent environmental and social conditions while being economically competitive compared to alternative solutions.
The main market for the HydroFlex innovations are Europe, USA and part of Asia. The technology development will also benefit emerging economies in Africa, Asia and America as they develop new hydropower projects.