Europe’s traditional ‘fit and forget approach’ approach to grid design may no longer be fit for purpose, according to European power distribution network operators(DNOs).
They argue that growing generation from decentralised and intermittent renewables – most of which will be connected to distribution grids – means that designing grids for peak load is no longer necessarily the most cost-effective option.
“People tend to assume that distributed generation, because it is mostly located close to consumption, reduces peak load and congestion and therefore the need for network investment,” said David Trebolle from Gas Natural Fenosa.
“In reality, distributed generation represents a huge network integration challenge. Network costs do not necessarily drop – in fact, they may even increase, while system operation becomes more complex. That is where active system management could come in.”
In a paper published today by Brussels-based trade group Eurelectric, distribution grid operators say that the EU-wide network codes currently being drafted by ENTSO-E, ACER and the European Commission should “facilitate alternative solutions, allowing for a flexible approach towards diverse European distribution networks”.
The paper states that proper implementation of existing EU legislation, namely the new Energy Efficiency Directive and the Second and the Third Energy Packages, should allow DSOs to act more actively.
It adds that policymakers “will need to take decisive action in creating a regulatory framework that allows network solutions beyond the approach of ‘investing in copper’. Flexibility can also be encouraged through better designed operational rules and by adapting connection and access rules, including priority access rules that currently prevent grid and market operators from implementing cost-effective solutions.”