The most complex microgrid ever developed, embedded with the most advanced power electronics controlled by artificial intelligence and neural networks

In the last decade the increasing penetration of renewables has been contributing to phase-out traditional power plants and to put the role of energy storage systems under the spotlight.

This energy transition scenario was foreseen in advance by the EPS founders in 2005, which in collaboration with the Politecnico di Milano and Politecnico di Torino decided to focus over the management of microgrids, stationary battery storage and hydrogen technology.

This pioneering vision contributed to make ENGIE Eps one of the most successful technology players in the world, delivering one of the largest installed bases of commercial microgrids and utility-scale systems globally, as well as growing from a start-up to now a company leveraging on the ENGIE global reach.

Similarly, Politecnico di Milano decided to invest in the Department of Energy in 2008 which now is a Department of Excellence recognized in Italy. The Excellence title was granted based on the research activity in the mobility field.

ENGIE Eps and Politecnico di Milano decided to join their excellence to face the challenge of replacement of conventional centralized power plants with renewable energy and new businesses related to the Electric Vehicles as the integration of their charging stations in distribution networks

In emerging countries, 2.4 billion people reliant on diesel generation which will be replaced by renewable energy taking advantage of the reduced cost combined with the maturation of the energy storage market.

To pave the way towards these goals, in 2017 ENGIE Eps and Politecnico di Milano launched a four years research plan, under the name of PRedictive OPtimizations Heading to the Energy Transition (PROPHET). Throughout the whole project a combination of traditional optimization techniques (e.g. MILP) and novel Artificial Intelligence and Neural Networks Algorithms is going to be deployed for unravelling complex energy engineering dilemmas, as the fuel minimization in multigoods microgrids, electric vehicle recharging or the real time battery state estimation.

PROPHET Applications

A cutting edge microgrid: solar, wind, combined heat and power, battery and hydrogen storage to power lighting, heating, desalination, electrical vehicles and electrical bikes

This ambitious project, involving different academic research teams, ENGIE corporate research centres as well as a handful of external industrial partners, aims at the following goals:

Optimally manage Behind the Meter (BtM) grid connected storages and renewables in combination with onsite load and distributed generators, to replicate the success of the US programs but without any need for subsidies and incentive schemes.

Furtherly increase the fuel savings and add robustness in off-grid microgrids, through a novel optimization layer making use of load and photovoltaic forecasters to achieve 100% load coverage and power 2.4 billion people entirely by renewables at a dramatically cheaper cost compared to the current fossil alternatives.Grid-side energy storage systems addressing operators’ surging demand for primary, secondary and tertiary reserve, reactive power and black-start capabilities, while improving service quality and reducing operating costs and users’ energy bills.

Test and improve a commercial Virtual Power Plant platform for enabling the access of storages and other prosumers to the electricity market, leveraging on the new regulatory framework.

Analyse the viability of EV battery usage for supporting the grid frequency, through so called Vehicle to Grid (V2G) service, with the aim to transform vehicles into a real grid asset and a profit center for the car owner.

Design an EV fast charging solution infrastructure for replacing present oil-pumps without grid reinforcements, enabling a real deployment of fast charge infrastructures in urban areas

Sustainable and competitive Energy Transition
The major technological challenge of the next decade

This world class cutting-edge program will be developed by ENGIE Eps and Politecnico di Milano leveraging on a state-of-the-art microgrid plugged into the campus of the Politecnico di Milano, that will start operations on September 2018. That microgrid couples the most advanced power generation sources (solar, wind, combined heat and power) storage (electrochemical batteries and hydrogen) and the loads of the next generation urban areas (lighting, heating, desalination, electrical vehicles, and electrical bikes).

The cutting-edge innovation rig will be used not only for research purpose but also for validating external technologies of the ENGIE Eps partners in the context of the most advanced Open Innovation Technology Platform developed together with the Politecnico di Milano.

Eventually, the goal of the PROPHET project from the competitiveness perspective would lead ENGIE Eps and Politecnico di Milano to achieve in 2020, five years in advance, the 2025 best in class multi-good grid design and management achieving cost targets set by the most ambitious analyst and management consulting firms sealing the worldwide excellence and sustainable competitive advantage of the European innovation platform and the Italian electrical engineering expertise.