Active Distribution Grids
Decentralised electricity from renewables is prompting a rethink about how best to run Europe's distribution networks. Indeed, traditionally, distribution companies (DSOs) designed their networks according to peak demand needs, not as connection points for generators like solar panels or windmills. In the past, predictable flows in the electricity network did not require extensive management and monitoring tools. But the expansion of renewables across Europe has changed this - in some areas quasi overnight.
This fast change together with the fact that customers are moving to the centre of the new value chain has led to rethink the way DSOs should operate their networks. This takes place in the framework of energy industry liberalisation, decarbonisation of the economy as well as ground breaking ICT developments. DSOs see themselves as key facilitators of this new power system: they will allow it to become more flexible, efficient and customer-centric.
Smart grids and Active Distribution System Management are the smart solutions that DSOs can provide to these new challenges, instead of simply 'burying copper in the ground'.
Active Distribution System Management stands for system services and new types of network access at distribution level. Tools such as participation of decentralised generators in voltage and reactive power management, distribution network capacity management and congestion management, and information exchange between TSOs, DSOs and distributed energy resources would allow DSOs to optimise investments and ensure that infrastructure is only extended when it is more cost-efficient.