Interconnections and smart grid vital for flexible Europe power system says report

The role of interconnectors and smart grid technology in delivering a flexible power system in Europe has been highlighted in a new report.

In the study, analysts from consultancy Frost & Sullivan stress that “as the concept of energy security grows in importance, so does the need to manage grid flexibility in Europe”.

“Technological investments to create a resilient grid infrastructure have become crucial as grid instability and power failures due to capacity overload plague Eastern Europe, and stand-by demand for intermittent renewable power sources grow in Western Europe.”
The report states that some countries such as Germany, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom have already defined regulatory frameworks to support energy security through efficient management of electricity grids. But it warns that other countries “still have to work out a robust strategy to integrate the large quantities of renewable energy coming on the grids”.

It adds that while flexible electricity grids can cope with higher levels of renewable energy, “nevertheless, the volume of power these grids can generate depends on its interconnectivity with other grids. Recognising this, the European market is looking to improve grid interconnectivity and invest in flexible fuel capacity.”
Frost & Sullivan’s energy analyst Pritil Gunjan said: “Interconnections help integrate regional markets and boost the reliability of power grids. This is particularly important in increasingly distributed electricity markets supported by multiple power generation sources.”

“They also eliminate the cost of building new power stations by ensuring that excess power generated by renewable energy sources is effectively backed up and used elsewhere.”
However the report states the problem of cost sharing still remains and adds that “it is essential for energy providers and end users to be confident of the incentive structures and regulatory policies on grid infrastructure. Cost allocation initiatives and political willingness are also important for successful grid integration.”
Ultimately though, distribution system operators must ensure that the demand and supply scenarios are favourably correlated through more interconnections. The onus to integrate renewable energy sources into distribution networks also rests on them.
Gunjan added: “In this context, smart grid optimisation appears to be the optimal means to ensure that decentralised energy generation succeeds. Smart grid technology enables the efficient management of energy by utilities and consumers as well as better delivery and consumption of distributed energy. It also helps energy suppliers, who are constantly trying to control the levelised cost of generating electricity from renewables to achieve grid parity, reduce emissions, and decrease the energy generated from fossil fuels.”
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