Distributed Energy Storage

Distributed Energy Storage

Building a virtual power plant on the mobile network – Good for business, good for the grid, good for the planet

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Elisa base station

The battle to combat climate change is one of the most significant facing human kind, and one that each of us has a responsibility to play our part. At Elisa our mission is a sustainable future through digitalization and our people work every day to find solutions for our customers, our company and for society to deliver on that ambition.

One of the key areas for us to address is our energy consumption – both in terms of reducing overall usage but also increasing the proportion of it derived from renewable and sustainable sources. Elisa’s Distributed Energy Storage (DES) project was born of that quest, and we are genuinely excited about the potential it has to provide a clean, green energy solution capable of serving both telecommunications networks and electricity grid operators.

We invite you to download our new white paper – Distributed Energy Storage – Good for Business, Good for the Grid, Good for the Planet – to learn more about this innovative and cost-efficient approach to energy management. Please fill in the form below to download the white paper.

We invite you to watch the recording of our webinar in which experts from the energy and telecommunications industries discuss the implications of energy storage for the energy transition and for network operators.

As the world transitions towards the decarbonisation of energy to combat climate change, the effort to maintain supply that is affordable, secure and sustainable becomes critical to economy and society – and more complex.  The deployment of renewables such as wind and solar is rapidly increasing, but these intermittent sources of energy require a new and innovative approach that ensures a balanced system that keeps the lights on. This is crucial as electricity production must match consumption every second. Electricity Transmission System Operators (TSOs) play the key role in delivering the resources to balance the grid in real time. 

Elisa’s Distributed Energy Storage (DES) system empowers telecommunications network operators to be an important part of the solution. DES facilitates a virtual power plant that controls and optimises distributed energy storage capacity in the radio access network (RAN), allowing it to ensure electricity is procured in the most cost-effective way for the telecom network but also to release additional capacity to the electricity grid when TSOs need it to balance the grid, such as in times of disturbance.

Our AI/ML optimization engine is built on existing in-house capability developed for managing our telecom networks – it not only reduces electricity costs but also enables societies to build a resilient electricity grid as they reduce dependency on fossil fuels.  

Our solution 

The Distributed Energy Storage solution powered by AI/ML uses the flexibility of backup power batteries to control electricity supply in thousands of base stations in the mobile network throughout the day. The DES system optimizes the timing of electricity purchases by scheduling charging and discharging periods for the batteries. Furthermore, part of this flexibility capacity is then offered to TSOs for grid balancing purposes. When balancing the grid, the TSO sends request of their needs every few seconds, and the DES system decides which of the thousands of base station power units should be adjusted in real time. 

Delivering financial benefits

Elisa’s experience in its own network has shown a persuasive business case for DES, allowing operators to convert a traditional cost centre – mandatory back-up energy storage – into a source of electricity purchasing cost savings and new revenue from electricity grid services. Its ‘load-shifting’ capacity optimizes consumption and use of energy, buying while it’s cheap and using battery energy at peak times, reducing Opex.  Revenues can be generated by selling additional capacity back to the grid to help provide balance between supply and demand. 

Enabling the energy transition

Renewable energy like wind power is inexpensive, CO2-free and abundant and is a key solution to the challenge of climate change. Exponential growth is expected in renewable deployment in the coming years, but the intermittent and unpredictable nature of the source requires intelligent storage and management solutions such as the virtual power plant to support and maximize their impact.  The DES allows critical storage capacity of environmentally friendly and cost-effective energy from intermittent sources that can be deployed when needed either to power the network or to serve the electricity grid. 

Our AI/ML engine

The DES solution is composed of three layers of control intelligence powered by AI software, harnessing the electricity and power equipment data to provide actionable intelligence for grid optimization. The top-level planner uses supply and demand data of different electricity  balance markets to perform thousands of simulations that allow it to determine how much capacity to allocate at any given time to load-shifting or grid balancing. The data-intensive middle layer supervises the flow of electricity and conditions of the base station power equipment to ensure the best use of the assets, including battery longevity over time. Finally, the lowest level controller selects which specific units should be adjusted to respond to changes in load-shifting plans or to TSO grid balancing requests.

Why the mobile network is right for the Distributed Energy Storage

Most mobile network operators have some level of back-up power supply in their network infrastructure – often mandated by regulation – but also because network resilience demands it. They therefore start with strong foundations for a virtual power plant: distributed energy storage assets that match electricity consumption at the base stations.  With investment in that capacity, the DES helps the operator get the most from those assets, by optimizing the energy and capacity use of the batteries enabling them to reduce their carbon footprint, save costs and even generate revenues.  The distributed solution is more cost effective and efficient for the network operator than a centralized battery solution, and also provides the best resilience for the network.

Finnish forest with mobile base station

Case Finland: Proving the operational value of the Distributed Energy Storage in Elisa’s network

The rise in global energy costs as well as the accelerated deployment of renewable energy on security and environmental grounds presents significant challenges for electricity providers. Elisa´s experience shows that solving can reward mobile network operators with financial and operational gains

Blog: Meeting the challenge of balancing wind and solar power in the electricity grid

“The storms experienced in global energy markets during 2022 may come to be regarded as a watershed for the roll out of renewable energy,”  says Jukka-Pekka Salmenkaita in his blog.