Elia Open Innovation Challenge, Improve electricity forecasting

Elia Group wants to work with you to improve electricity generation and consumption forecasting!


Elia , as Belgium’s transmission system operator for electricity, is tasked with maintaining the balance on the Belgian electricity system around the clock.

To do so, Elia needs accurate forecasts of expected generation and consumption for minutes ahead as well as days, weeks or even years ahead. When Elia anticipates an energy deficit or surplus, we need to restore the balance to avoid damaging the grid and the assets connected to it (such as generation plants or industrial and domestic appliances).

In light of the current energy transition, assessing load and generation for all time horizons is a challenge.


Generation forecast is becoming more and more challenging

Conventional assets like nuclear, gas or coal power plants are being replaced by intermittent renewable assets like onshore and offshore windmills or solar panels. Forecasts of conventional generation are based on financial calculations as well as a number of parameters. In contrast, renewable assets generate energy when the wind blows or the sun shines. The owners of such assets do not know for certain how much the sun will shine the next day or, even worse, 300 days ahead. Weather forecasting is not an easy task and has a huge impact on generation - just think about ice on a windmill’s blades, snow on PV panels, or storms at offshore wind farms.

Moreover, generation assets were previously owned by a few parties who sent their generation planning to Elia. With the boom in renewables, the number of generation owners is on the rise. This significantly complicates communication for Elia.

We are moving towards a world where big assets owned by a few people are being replaced by small assets owned by a lot of people. It also introduces an unknown parameter concerning how much generation will be available in the future or how the ageing of devices will impact efficiency.



Consumption forecasting is becoming more complex

Consumption forecasting has always been complex. However, the grid user of the future will be a prosumer, further complicating forecasting. This new type of user will be either a generator or consumer depending on a number of parameters, such as their electricity storage capacity, electricity prices, the technology they use to manage their installation, and so on.

While the line between generation and load used to be clear, it is now blurring thanks to the development of solar cells, home batteries, and the like. People who were previously pure consumers are becoming prosumers. In the future, every individual could be a generator or a consumer.

Moreover, technological developments are making it increasingly possible to electrify energy-intensive sectors such as transport (thanks to electric vehicles) and heating and cooling (thanks to heat pumps). Coupled with more digitalisation and access to information, this will empower consumers and change the patterns of electricity consumption.


Improving the forecasting is key to keep the system in balance

All of the above will make maintaining the system balance more challenging. This is why improved forecasting of electricity consumption and demand is very important for us.


Elia has a range of forecasting applications and goals

Having a clear view of changes in load and generation helps Elia to estimate turnover for the years ahead. This information is therefore used to make decisions on grid investment and tariffs.

Being able to identify correlations between load or generation and parameters such as the weather, economic activity (business days) or others that are difficult to explain (political decisions, lifestyle, etc.) will help Elia to better understand the progress of the energy transition and better anticipate the future.

Knowing how much generation will be available and how much load should be covered helps Elia to predict system adequacy.

Having a clear view of forecasts for load and generation helps Elia to manage the maintenance of lines and substations.

Having a clear view of the factors affecting grid offtake and injection for direct customers and distribution system operators helps to explain fluctuations (years / months of offtake and injection).

Having accurate short-term forecasts (from real time to week-ahead) helps to determine the scope of ancillary services and reduce the activation of reserves.

Having an accurate forecast of what will be generated and consumed at any time at any point on the grid will help to anticipate congestion and take preventive action.