With the help of the COMPILE project and its partners, Slovenia got its first self-sufficient energy community in the alpine village Luče. Its residents were facing a weak grid and problems of frequent outages and voltage levels so we have decided to set up a self-sufficient energy community to solve their issues. The first challenge was to install additional PVs, as the DSO stated that only an additional 10kW could be installed using their methodology. We requested a “regulatory sandbox” from the regulator and, in collaboration with the local DSO, installed an additional 102 kW of PV on 9 houses. All of the PVs were equipped with a smart controller built by the COMPILE project partner called HomeRule, as well as its curtailment algorithms. The HomeRule activity revealed that we were able to inject 5x more PV energy without exceeding any network limits using just HomeRule, which costs about 300 EUR per PV. In addition, to measure the added benefit of energy storage and community, we built 5 house batteries (ranging from 5 kWh to 20 kWh of storage) and a 150 kW/333 kWh community battery. Using a coordinated method, we connected them all together with the GridRule tool and reduced the reductions to just a few, very short periods throughout the year. Besides, the village participated in testing the 15-minute net-metering scheme.
The engagement of residents was done in cooperation with a “local champion”, a resident of the village who is a RES enthusiast and had already installed PV, the first small-scale wind power plant in Slovenia and is using the electric vehicle (EV) for years now. He planned to install more PVs but there were concerns about safe grid operation. As a result, COMPILE team invited neighbours to join the initiative and invest in PV, which will ensure safe and reliable grid operation with the help of COMPILE tools. The technical partners of the project were in charge of technology installation and developed control algorithms for managing batteries and smart inverters which were approved by the DSO.
Luče is just one example of a location where the distribution power system is not robust enough or ready for the inclusion of a large number of renewables, especially photovoltaics and where we would need to spend billions of euros to modernize the network to be future-ready. Besides, in many countries, photovoltaic investors are awaiting permission to connect to the grid or are even prohibited from installing new solar panels due to grid constraints. COMPILE has found and showed a better way to use existing capacities without incurring costly upgrades and causing network issues. The project not only brought the stable energy community and secure supply of the local energy system but also strengthened the community relationship and economic welfare of the residents.