On May 26th, a virtual panel discussion on ”How and why should we contribute to creating a flexible distribution system?” was hosted by the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER) together with HEP-Operator distribucijskog sustava d.o.o. (the Croatian distribution system operator). Opening the event, Associate Professor Hrvoje Pandžić (FER’s project leader for FLEXIGRID and Head of the Faculty’s Department of Energy and Power Systems) gave an overview of the project by presenting the solutions offered by the project’s demo sites and pilots, while the panel itself was based on the Croatian pilot case for virtual energy storage for urban buildings.

Despite being unable to hold a live event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual event gathered over 40 stakeholders from the research and education communities, equipment producers, the energy sector and consumers who actively contributed with input, including stating the needs of the market.

Moderating the panel, FER’s Associate Professor Tomislav Capuder led a dynamic discussion which sought feedback from both panellists and the audience on how they believe the challenge of providing flexible electrical energy services to end-consumers can best be solved.  The panellists, including Davor Bošnjak (Head of Intraday planning and trading services of HEP d.d.), Dalibor Sipl (Energy & Sustainability Manager at DS Smith Belišće Croatia d.o.o.), and Bernarda Ostojić (Technical Engineer at HEP-ODS) agreed on the urgent need for higher involvement of end-users in managing their energy resources by increasing the number of consumers with access to smart grid solutions.

In addition to being able to comment during the panel discussion, stakeholders contributed their input during the Q&A session and through several anonymous polls taken by the organizers. The results of these polls indicated which factors could encourage the stakeholders to make their equipment available to someone; there was a consensus regarding the need to reduce electrical energy expenses by improving energy efficiency, while many attendees also agreed that companies should offer money incentives as well as work on creating a positive public image by having greater ecological awareness.

The partners are responsible for the Croatian FLEXIGRID demo site located in the distribution control area of Zagreb (Elektra Zagreb) which covers all voltage levels and multiple controllable resources in order to test and verify innovative hardware and software solutions aimed at providing flexible electrical energy services to end-consumers.