The OSMOSE Project, integrating renewables

The OSMOSE Project, integrating renewables


Research into the innovative and intelligent use of the network and the production of renewable energy is picking up the pace with the Osmose Project. In the near future it will be possible, also in the Italian electricity market, to ensure grid stability thanks to the contribution of non-programmable renewable production systems spread across the country and integrated with energy storage systems managed in a way that is synergic and flexible.

For this reason, since 1 January 2018 our Group has been working on a European project that aims to trial new solutions that provide greater flexibility to the electricity system, making it better equipped to deal with receiving and managing the growing contribution from renewable sources more effectively.

The Osmose project (its name is an acronym for “Optimal System Mix of Flexibility Solutions for European Electricity”) is partly financed by the European Commission through a fund of €21 million deriving from the Horizon2020 programme. The project will conclude in 2021, after having completed four demonstrations conducted by 33 partners from nine European countries. The trials will be led by a solid partnership: utilities, transmission system operators, research centres and universities, an energy service provider as well as companies with strategic importance for the sector.

Our Group is currently participating with Enel Green Power and Enel Produzione, but Enel X, the division of the Group that is specialised in innovative products and digital solutions, will also be joining up before the official test scheduled for 2020. The Potenza Pietragalla wind farm equipped with an integrated energy storage system and located in the Basilicata region and the San Fiorano hydroelectric plant in Lombardy have been made available in preparation. 


The importance of reliability 

The sun and the wind are two natural resources that are increasingly being used to provide for a significant proportion of energy consumption, but their intermittent availability means that it is necessary to manage the electricity system in a more intelligent and flexible way. The current must be constantly maintained at levels of around 50 Hz so as to avoid damage to the infrastructure and inconvenience to users. Until now it has been the conventional power plants that have ensured this stability. With the advent of renewables, the variations in current, due to interruptions to the transmission lines, or rapid alterations in the availability of sun and wind, must be managed in a new but equally reliable way. There is a need, therefore, for a combination of solutions to use in a coordinated and synergic manner. Chief among these are energy storage systems and the so-called “demand response” – the possibility for clients to offer support in balancing the grid by modifying their own consumption in order to meet the immediate needs of the network. Such solutions, in order to be effective and economically sustainable, require new market regulations capable of capitalising on this “dispersed flexibility” as an alternative to that concentrated in the large conventional power plants.

As Gianluca Gigliucci, Head of Energy Storage Innovation for Enel Green Power, has explained, in Europe it is mainly Germany and the UK that have introduced new regulations, demonstrating the effectiveness and reliability of storage systems based on electro-chemical batteries. The Osmose project aims to trial and implement more sophisticated solutions that can be adopted at a European level in order to further increase the capacity to incorporate the growing contribution from renewables. The project is providing a glimpse into the near future for renewables and the management of the grid.


“In order to manage an electricity system that is 100% renewable, we will need solutions to regulate the input of energy onto the grid in a way that is extremely rapid and precise, based on the gird’s requirements. At Potenza Pietragalla we will be trialling the capabilities of our renewable plants, integrated with storage systems in order to simulate the inertia of the large rotating masses used in conventional plants. A further step towards independence from fossil fuels”

– Gianluca Gigliucci, Head of Energy Storage Innovation for EGP

Increasingly integrated energy 

The trials scheduled at the Potenza Pietragalla wind farm, the first in Italy to use an integrated storage system with lithium ion batteries, concerns also the part of the transmission network to which the plant is connected. In fact, an aggregation platform will be created that will manage the balancing capacities of the renewable plants in synergy with the flexibility of some large industrial energy consumers present in the area. The setup will be handled by Terna, Italy’s transmission network manager, which is taking part in Osmose and coordinating these trials. The challenge is to pinpoint the most cost-effective and efficient technical and market mechanisms to take full advantage of the flexibility of generation plants and load management; the portion of the grid selected for the tests is significant as it is vulnerable to problems concerning the management of power flows at times of high wind, during which the wind energy must arrive from the plants in Southern Italy to consumers in the centre and North.

Silvia Olivotto, Project Manager Energy Store Innovation for Enel Green Power has outlined how the Osmose project includes tests by other partners in France and the Canary Islands, with the aim of obtaining valid results by 2021. The general coordinator is RTE, one of the six European TSOs (Transmission System Operators) involved.       


“The European Union promotes and finances projects with players from diverse countries in order to develop products and create a network that encourages European competitiveness on global markets. Thanks to the Osmose project, Enel Green Power and Enel Produzione will have the possibility to field test the services with which to best capitalise on company assets in the near future, in Italy and around the world”

– Silvia Olivotto, Project Manager Energy Store Innovation for EGP

System adjustment without frontiers 

The European electricity system, though interconnected from a physical point of view, is still managed in a way that is not fully integrated between the different countries. The journey towards integration is already under way concerning what is known as the “day-ahead market”, in which the contributions from each generation plant to the following day’s energy needs are established in advance. Consumption and the effective availability of renewables, in addition to problems concerning the grid or the generation plants, make it necessary to manage this balance of the network in real time through the market for system adjustment services, which are still varied and independent, apart from some exceptions, between countries of the European Union.

The San Fiorano hydroelectric pumped storage plant in the province of Brescia will participate in the trials to verify how to use the pumped storage plant to offer “cross-border” services in what is set to become a single European market for system adjustment services. The plant in San Fiorano will be involved in a virtual dialogue with its counterpart in Slovenia, in such a way as to enable the transfer of storage capacity from one plant to another and, through market mechanisms to be defined during the Osmose project, supply the grid adjustment capacity to where it is most needed.

With Enel, renewable energy knows no frontiers.