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Thinking flexibly

Flexible power consumer in Next Kraftwerke's VPP Rain pours down in droves as Matthias Reimers unbars the gate to the pumping station. He is the CEO of a public association that operates and maintains, among other things, pumping stations on a dike on the North Sea in Germany. They pump rainwater back into the North Sea to keep the salt marsh habitable and cultivatable. “Today we have to pump,” Reimers says as the downpour continues.

The electricity to power the water pumps is delivered by Next Kraftwerke. The pricing system is somewhat unique: it’s called “Best of 96.” “Next Kraftwerke continuously sends us electricity prices,” Reimers explains. “Our system then knows when it is cheapest to pump the water back into the North Sea and can automatically adjust every 15 minutes, 96 times a day.”

It is the flexibility of the pumping station that creates the highest gains from Next Kraftwerke’s pricing system. Water can be pumped back into the North Sea within a 15-centimeter range in the reservoir. The range provides the necessary degree of flexibility to allow the pump station to vary when it operates. Next Kraftwerke utilizes this flexibility to reduce the pump’s electricity costs. “We were able to reduce our energy costs by 30 percent,” Reimers says. He emphasizes that “it is our overall priority to keep the marshland dry, but by cooperating with Next Kraftwerke, we can also reduce our costs without impacting this goal.”

Reimer’s association had other reasons for trying out the Best of 96. As coastal dwellers, they feel a sense of duty to help reduce the effects of climate change. “We want to use our flexibility to further the integration of renewable energies into the grid,” Reimers says. “We are convinced this is sustainable.”