On 19 November 2020, INEA, the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency of the European Commission, organised a coordination workshop, bringing around the same virtual table all the on-going H2020 Flexible Power Plants projects.
The representatives from PUMP-HEAT (G.A. n. 764706), Turbo-Reflex (G.A. n. 764545), sCO2flex (G.A. n. 764690), HYFLEXPOWER (G.A. n. 884229), ARBAHEAT (G.A. n. 818349), and, of course, FLEXnCONFU (G.A. n. 884157) participated to the virtual workshop. The panel included almost all the projects on Flexible Power Plants funded under the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (7 projects funded between 2016 and 2020); the only “absent” was the project Flexturbine, started in 2016 and already concluded in 2018.
The workshop has been a unique opportunity for the projects to discuss and compare the status quo of the different research initiatives, analyse and share best practices on how to overcome potential challenges, and to find new ways to cooperate and leverage synergies. Especially in these unprecedented times, when research could be hampered by reduced access to laboratories, workshops like this are key to keep spirits high and motivation set to the right course.
In the workshop, the strength of the H2020 programme emerged: the different projects aim to achieve the same goals, namely in this case increase flexibility, yet they are all different and complimentary.
Each one of the 6 different projects that participated to the workshop has its specific focus and explores a different way to increase flexibility.
For example, flexibility could be increased through the optimisation of power-to-x-to-power solutions, like in the FLEXnCONFU project, or through the combustion of low-carbon gasses such as hydrogen, like in the HYFLEXPOWER project. Some projects are focussed on improving operational flexibility with heat pumps, like in the homonym project PUMP-HEAT,or by using supercritical CO2, like in the sCO2Flex project. The focus could be the development and the optimisation of components and machines to retrofit existing plants, like in the case of the TURBOREFLEX project, or the conversion of conventional co-firing power plants in fully biomass fired CHP plants (ARBAHEAT project).
The richness of the different possible solutions, stretching from machinery development to the use of ammonia, from supercritical CO2 to waste valorisation, is valued even more by the natural cooperation that emerges when working towards the same objectives. Starting from the common goal of helping Europe achieve its ambition to be the world’s first climate-neutral continent by developing scalable solutions for flexible power plants, other assets create a clear bond between the projects. Environmental friendliness, plants retrofitting, integration on site of storage capacity, use of alternative fuels for conventional power generation, all those elements are part on the same thread: demonstrate the value of power plant and their unique potential to stabilise the power and electrical grid on a daily, weekly, and seasonal base, so helping Europe achieve climate neutrality.
Written by Ugo Simeoni Research & Innovation Manager at ETN Global for FLEXnCONFU