What is multi-energy?

At present, the different energy networks (gas, electricity, heat) operate independently of one another. If we are to meet the challenges of the ecological and energy transition, we have to leave this compartmentalised approach behind us and see the different energy carriers as a unified, interconnected system. That is what we refer to as multi-energy.

How does a multi-energy system work?

Every energy system in France is responsible for an energy loss of 25 to 60%. Multi-energy requires the barriers between the different energy networks to be broken down, so that energy efficiency can be improved by:

  • optimising production as close as possible to where consumers need it,

  • energy transformation (e.g. electricity to hydrogen, which allows it to be stored),

  • energy storage for use at a later time.

In other words, multi-energy means developing a global energy system that is more efficient, more diverse and more local. Multi-energy creates synergies between the different networks, including renewable energies, allowing a reduction in energy wastage by storing lost energy (or unavoidable energy), or by transforming it into a form of energy that is in greater demand or which is more efficient to use.

Multi-energy: responding to the needs of the energy transition

In addition, the development of renewable energies, and the problems of intermittency they can bring, provides another argument in favour of breaking down the barriers between these systems. The problem is that wind and solar power depend on natural elements (wind and sunshine) which are not constant. They can produce a lot of energy at certain times of the day or year, but that production will not necessarily tie up with the demand from consumers at a particular moment in time. Electricity is difficult to store in large quantities, or over long periods. Removing the barriers between the different energy networks would enable us to use that surplus, transform it into hydrogen, and store it that way.

The aim of a multi-energy grid is to bring energy performance and environmental performance together. This fits perfectly into the requirements written into the 2015 Energy Transition for Green Growth Law (LTECV), which sets out a “new energy paradigm” and establishes ambitious, quantifiable targets. It is an integral part of developing the city of tomorrow, the Smart City.

The role of new communication technologies

Multi-energy cannot work without the integration of information technologies. These offer great prospects, particularly in terms of energy management: real-time monitoring, remote control and maintenance, smart maintenance planning, energy saving strategies, supply optimisation etc. With these new technologies, the multi-energy system will be more predictive, leading to more efficient management.

IMPULSE 2025: toward a multi-energy grid

To implement this approach, Teréga, supported by a number of scientific partners, has launched the IMPULSE 2025 project, for a smart multi-energy grid.

This project is based on:

  • industrial technologies to create bridges between the different forms of energy,

  • digital technologies for real-time management of energy flows and actors in the system.

The aim: to recover lost energy for appropriate use at the opportune time for the consumer.

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