The consortium of ICT Group and other Dutch energy market players, USEF Foundation, launches ‘Balance of Power‘, a serious game to promote better understanding of future energy market challenges and potential solutions.

The interactive documentary-based game is aimed at people with a non-technical role in the energy transition such as politicians, local authorities and entrepreneurs. The storyline evolves as players are tasked with making difficult choices that dictate how cost-effective, sustainable and secure the resulting new energy system will be.

More renewables, increasing demand for electricity and the rise of electric vehicles are putting incredible pressure on the grid. While grid reinforcement is the tried and trusted method of keeping the system reliable, it takes time and is expensive, which pushes up the cost to the consumer. A more efficient and cost-effective solution is to better align energy demand and supply, for example, by not charging the car at six o’clock in the evening when demand is high but at a time when there is less demand or too much supply. This shiftable energy consumption is known as ‘flexibility’ and, because it can be used help to avoid grid reinforcements, it has financial value. All that is required are the rules and tools to make the physical and financial exchange possible and efficient – a flexibility market. The design of this future energy market is already being discussed at both national and European level but it is technically complex and includes some new and adjusted market roles. Better understanding it all is the key to faster decision-making for energy transition and so ‘Balance of Power’ aims to facilitate this.

USEF (Universal Smart Energy Framework), a consortium of six Dutch energy market players, has been active since 2015 to support the creation of a sustainable flexibility market. USEF describes the components of this market in detail: the processes, the rules, the roles and the interaction between players. The philosophy of USEF has since found a place in European guidelines and in various local applications. In order to make the concept of the flexibility market more approachable and to increase the support for market renewal, USEF developed the Balance of Power game with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. Three major dilemmas for setting up an effective energy market are addressed in this: (1) flexibility versus grid reinforcement, (2) the admission of one or more aggregators and (3) the degree of regulation of the market. This interactive documentary can be played for free on

About USEF

To accelerate the transition to a commercially viable smart energy system, USEF Foundation has developed basics for a unified smart energy market, connecting projects and technologies at the lowest cost. With a value-to-all approach, USEF enables the commoditisation and trading of flexible energy use. The framework defines the market structure, stakeholder roles, how they interact and how they benefit by doing so.

Founded by key players active across the smart energy chain, USEF partners ABB, Alliander, DNV GL, IBM, ICT Group and Stedin work together to effectively address the challenges of one integrated system which benefits new and traditional energy companies as well as consumers. USEF’s work has been incorporated in national and international policy proposals and the framework has been implemented in different smart energy projects across Europe.

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