Researchers examine demand flexibility in electricity distribution networks

Industry Insights

The transition to sustainable sources of energy such as solar and wind and the introduction of heat pumps and electric vehicles are increasing the burden on electricity distribution networks. To prevent overload and reinforcing of network, which is time-intensive and expensive, energy regulators are increasingly looking of new and flexible ways to control demand.

To address this, a practical tool developed that can help distribution system operators use demand flexibility in their everyday operations.

The transition to energy is gaining momentum with the increasing use of sustainable sources such as solar panels and wind turbines being incorporated in distribution networks. At the same time, the introduction of heat pumps and electric vehicles has added the load on existing distribution networks.

Conventionally, the design and reinforcement of distribution networks is based on the expected peak load to prevent network congestion or overloading. On the other hand, distribution system operators can leverage flexibility of demand side to avoid or postpone expensive reinforcements or to fill the time taken to complete reinforcements. The application is currently in the process of being enabled by the Dutch regulator.

Meanwhile, in the past, various mechanisms such as tariff changes, price-based schemes, direct control, and flexibility markets to control customer demand have been considered, examined, and tested in the field. This shows that demand flexibility can provide a solution for congestion problems.

In fact, the integration of different aspects and providing distribution system operators with the necessary tools to employ flexibility for congestion management in daily operations is a topic that has yet not been extensively studied.

Therefore, the focus of the thesis of the researcher was on utilization of flexibility in daily operations from a perspective of distribution system.

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