In the framework of the European project InterFlex and its French demonstrator Nice Smart Valley, EDF has committed to the challenge of recruiting domestic and business customers alike for implementing active demand side management measures (flexibility) and provide grid services during demand peak hours, i.e., when grid congestions are most likely to happen.

Up to date, more than 470 private customers showed interest for this, while more than 220 experimentation agreements have been signed. In the industrial sector, 6 local companies meeting the set eligibility criteria (Schneider Carros, Sofia Cosmetics, Paindor, Augier, Régie Eaux d’Azur, One too) have engaged in testing such new demand side management solutions. Thanks to these innovations, the project paves the way to the distribution network of tomorrow, which has to become more flexible and responsive to cope more efficiently with the rising share of decentralized and intermittent renewable energy sources.

In the project, EDF supports domestic customers with a dedicated relational program, aiming at maximising the implementation of flexibility actions and its visibility or impact: a tailored user guide has been distributed, recurrent action day announcements  are accompanied by the mailing of concrete examples, a specific reward and support program for local associations has been realized (Nice Foundation, Uniscité Habitat and Humanism), newsletters are published periodically and even a  dedicated social online platform has been implemented, where participants can easily post and share their motivation, understanding or best practices. EDF offers dedicated training sessions to business customers and their employees aiming at raising their awareness about the demonstration activity by teaching practical every-day gestures improving the energy footprint and answering to grid-flexibility needs. In addition, the involved companies have received a communication guide to advertise their commitment and participation in the Nice Smart Valley project and this for both internal and external communication purposes.

Beyond the actual results for improving the grid flexibility thanks to peak shaving and peak shifting, a specific monitoring device has been deployed for better understanding customers’ behaviour. For example, what has been observed is that in order to meet the flexibility demands, in most cases households are ready to decrease the use of heating in winter (setpoint lowered by 1°C) or shift the use of major household appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers. Even more, customers are seen to be attentive to lighting, the use of computer equipment and device standby and some are even changing their dining habits to shift the use of cooking appliances. As the experimentation progresses, a learning effect can be noticed in terms of raising awareness on electrical consumption and the implementation of “flexi-gestures” to respond to network needs.