Pentagon will focus in particular on the achievement of four key impacts related to increased penetration of renewables, increased flexibility at local level, enablement of new local flexibility markets and 5-years post-project horizon commercialization of Pentagon key technological results. These are detailed below.
PENTAGON considers smart tri-generation (electricity, gas, heat) districts as first-class enablers to future grid flexibility and, in this respect, aims at critically enhancing their flexibility capabilities through the focused integration of power to gas conversion technology and the leveraging of intrinsic building power to heat capabilities. Power to gas technologies can actually allow for the transformation of electricity into methane that can then be reused (e.g. in a CHP) or injected in the gas network and thus address current limitations, such as alleviating the need for renewable electricity production curtailment. However, the maturity and efficiency of these technologies are not yet sufficient to ensure their cost-effectiveness. According to, one can expect as of today an efficiency between 50% and 60% depending on the compression strategies, where 75% would be the minimum value for viable commercialization. This is the rationale that underlies one of the PENTAGON objectives (detailed in section 1.1), which is to bring Power-to-Methane efficiency up to 75%. The relevance of the Power-to-Gas technology is confirmed by available forecasts as depicted below, which suggest a wider uptake of the technology by 2020. One of the reasons is that gaseous storage (a) has a low marginal cost of storage, (b) is comprised mostly of inexpensive components and (c) offers the benefit of bulk storage without an unwieldy footprint. In addition, the need for mass electricity storage in the coming years is likely to foster the adoption of the energy conversion technologies. For instance, according to Deutsche Bank, the German market for electrical storage devices is expected to at least double between 2012 and 2025 (an investment of roughly 30 billion euros will be required in Germany alone over the next 20 years), a trend that is likely to apply also more widely in Europe.
Model predictive control (MPC) and Multi-Agent System (MAS) optimization strategies have been successfully developed and deployed for electrical and heat flow management in the frame of ongoing EU projects (Ambassador and Resilient, 2013-2017), allowing for the implementation of advanced optimization schemes at district level. The aim of these optimization schemes are to allow for the full exploitation of district and building flexibility capabilities, relying on flexible loads and storage capacities. MPC and MAS are complementary in the sense that they factor in different assumptions on the constraints that apply to the management of district energy resources. While MPC assumes that all resources can be controlled and implements a centralized optimization strategy, MAS rely on dynamic, decentralized and hierarchical negotiation. Therefore, MPC is more adapted to situations where the district resources are owned and managed by a single entity (which mostly align with the local authority managed, publicly owned smart district), while MAS will be more adapted to situation where multiple stakeholders are involved (typically the ESCO / aggregator / supplier / DSO interaction scheme). These platforms rely on predictions of electrical consumption and renewable energy production based on weather forecast and adaptive prediction models. The performance of optimization algorithms will be evaluated for different tariff profiles and flexibility gains in the range of 15 to 20% compared to standard management will be achieved and demonstrated.
The business roadmap of PENTAGON is largely based on an inspirational study48 commissioned by partner BGCBC (Blaneau Gwent County Borough Council) that aims at framing a sustainable local energy supply and aggregation business, with the objective to reduce the costs of energy for local consumers. There are several reasons why PENTAGON would like to build upon this BGCBC ‘Energy Catalyst’ roadmap. First of all, this specific business case (local authority acting as local flexibility manager) is fully in line with the most recent market frameworks for the distribution grid flexibility management: The Universal Smart Energy Framework, for instance, emphasizes the central role of aggregation in flexibility trading. One objective of Pentagon is therefore to enable Local Authorities like BGCBC to endorse the role of local flexibility manager, with the aim to create a sustainable local business in the frame of future smart distribution grids. Secondly, the revenues generated by this flexibility trading will enable empowered Local Authorities to decrease the cost of energy for the locals and contribute to the social improvement of the community. Eventually, this Local Authority as Local Flexibility Aggregator business case is widely replicable all over Europe. Actually, the key market drivers for PENTAGON solutions are the current growing trend towards the transition to smart cities and the same trends for district heating.
Through the duration of PENTAGON project the high efficient Power-to-Methane technology is going to reach the TRL 6, a step forward towards commercialization. Scaled experiments and simulations will lay the groundwork for future implementations in real-world scenarios. In this way, projects following PENTAGON developments can make this technology reach the final commercialization and become a viable option within storage technologies. With regard to the PENTAGON platform, optimization and aggregation of the district-level synergy of gas networks, electricity and thermal and its possible conversions and storages will be demonstrated during the project, so its commercial viability will be exploited through strategies developed by a dedicated partner (R2M). The main activities towards commercialization of the two sides that will be developed by PENTAGON partners are: