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Congestion Management: when flexibility must be increased

Flexibility measures need to be adopted by network operators in successfully channeling the green energy transition

Energy transition puts pressure on European grids, increasing congestion in the electricity network

For decades, electricity was generated by centralized, fossil-fueled, predictable power plants and demand rose annually at a relatively stable pace. This allowed transmission and distribution grid operators to efficiently plan the grid and manage grid capacity. In recent years, the fast rise of decentralized electricity production and electrification of transportation and heating is putting the European electricity networks under bigger stress. To sufficiently deal with this energy transition, performing congestion management is now more relevant than ever; and should be facilitated by policy and legal frameworks. In the Netherlands for instance, an amendment in the national grid code is recently instigated which takes effect on the ‘rules of the game’ surrounding transport scarcity and congestion management. The change is created to make the rules for congestion management more applicable to distribution networks. The amendment also contributes to better use of flexibility in smaller connections. As a result, the grid code will provide a framework for Distribution System Operators (DSOs) to help Transmission System Operators (TSOs) solve congestion issues, during times in which the TSO can’t offer enough transport capacity to the DSO or when the regional net balance gets disturbed.

Flexibility measures should be performed by DSOs to perform congestion management

For congestion management to be performed, it’s important to forecast grid load and herewith gain better insights on the available grid capacity and the potential occurrence of congestion in the (near) future. Forecasting capabilities allow DSOs to forecast grid capacity for the short-, medium- and long-term based on several data inputs, i.e. weather data, sensor data and asset data. Additionally, the analysis and gathering of grid data, for instance through a dashboard, create insights into current and future grid congestion. Based on expected congestion levels, flexibility measures can be deployed by DSOs to forecast and manage congestion. Allowing for bilateral flexibility contracts and connected regional- and national flexibility markets, are good examples of flexibility measures that are used to dispatch flexibility in the short term to prevent or resolve congestion. In these types of arrangements, financial compensation is paid to consumers or producers to temporarily adjust electricity demand and supply. This is especially useful for bigger connection points, but also smaller connection points can be beneficially used by aggregators. After the deployment of flexibility measures, the grid needs to be monitored frequently to indicate whether or not more (emergency) measures should be taken.

How we can guide network operators through the energy transition

Sia Partners has developed an extensive global portfolio in the field of Grid Planning & Operations by supporting business operations, improving performance, and creating transformational strategies for grid operators. Sia Partners can provide case-specific solutions by utilizing its internal data analytics teams and reaching out to its large international network of content experts. We understand the organizational culture of network operators and can support them in the transitional process towards adaptive and proactive grid planning.