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Nice Grid: the first smart solar district The Alpes-Maritimes administrative department in southeast France lies on the periphery of the transmission grid, which is a structural handicap for its electricity supply. However, it also has an abundant supply of renewable energy, especially solar. The power grid architecture therefore needs to be adapted to accommodate significant production from renewable—but intermittent and dispersed—energy sources, along with a focus on charging electric vehicles as part of a more long-term outlook. Headed by ERDF ,  Nice Grid is the first smart solar district demonstration project in Europe and is part of the Grid4EU programme, which aims to test innovative electricity management solutions over a four-year period. 

Several hundreds of residential and business customers in Carros are participating in the EDF test project. Equipped with solutions enabling voluntary load shedding, these new prosumers can achieve proactive energy control during periods of peak demand by following the operator's recommendations. In addition, an "islanding" zone—with its own photovoltaic generation capacity and storage facilities—can be disconnected from the main grid during a time-limited period. This microgrid can independently ensure continuity of service while maintaining the required voltage and frequency along power lines.

Carros offers a total installed capacity of 2.5 MWp. The integration and management of the 600 kWc installed capacity of the Nice Grid 7 solar districts is a world first. The system put in place by the Nice Grid consortium partners  draws on three key factors to successfully balance supply and demand in the district:

  • next-day forecasts to compare solar energy production with consumption;
  • battery storage at key network nodes to offset any intermittency in the supply of solar energy and absorb consumption peaks;
  • incentivising residential and industrial consumers to better manage their consumption.

Grid Solutions provides a smart energy management solution  which controls and optimises the full range of local energy resources available to solar districts in real time through an array of flexible solutions that are compared and incorporated into the grid. The energy manager monitors information on conditions affecting network operations—such as sun forecasts, consumption patterns, and technical issues— and activates these flexible solutions based on aggregated customers flexibilities given by EDF. Electricity supply is optimised, renewable energy integration is optimised  and the overall carbon footprint of the district is reduced, providing a better quality of life.

Grid Solutions also supplied its new MaxSine eStorage conversion solution to meet energy-storage needs. MaxSine connects batteries to the high/medium voltage network while controlling the amount of energy stored. It  charges or drains these batteries based on electricity demand across the power grid, thereby reducing the amount of energy required from the operator, RTE. MaxSine eStorage is installed with a power converter and software which controls storage facilities. The solution reacts quickly to weather conditions and consumer demand to balance the power supply across the grid while ensuring safe, efficient load management. The system also considerably improves capacity to integrate renewable energy sources. Storage results have been convincing in terms of managing electricity distribution and balancing supply and demand across the grid.