The development of renewable energy requires investment in distribution networks

Investors planning to connect large photovoltaic power plants to the network are increasingly faced by operators. The CEO of Tauron Dystrybucja explains that his company has allowed as much of the chain as it can so far, given its development plans for the near future. However, in the case of smaller installations, the prosumer cannot be abandoned, so such installations are connected ex officio.

– We will not be able to do more without interfering with the network and modernizing it. We have signed many communication agreements, which will be implemented in the next five years. Now, unfortunately, we have to give up. There are many companies waiting to be contacted. We must first fulfill these agreements, he added.

The President said that Tauron Dystrybucja has agreed to connect 227 RES in 2019, 471 in 2020 and 572 in 2021. In the following years, its capacity was 600 MW, 1.5 GW and 1.7 GW, respectively.

– Some people do not understand the problems we are struggling with and complain that we refuse to join. Meanwhile, we face many problems. Entrepreneurs are dynamically investing in the construction of large photovoltaic farms. When Rule 10H is relaxed, they will also return to the construction of onshore wind farms. There are already many applications, most of them for photovoltaic farms up to several hundred megawatts. It turns out that the devices are placed in places where there is no buyer or demand. We need to modernize or build new networks, and it just takes money. ”

He added that the network’s development plan until 2025 is slowly running out. – We refuse, these refusals are growing almost every month. We are waiting for development plans and tariff changes, a new deal on a new approach to financing, he explains.

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This year, the development plan will be updated with the perspective of 2028. Assumptions are updated every few years. At the same time, negotiations are underway with the President of the Energy Regulatory Authority on changes in the formula for the return of capital through the tariff and investment financing. – The formula of the existing methodology is running out. We want to spend more and more money on investments, but the method used to calculate the return on capital means less money, he says. – We hope for a breakthrough not only for the distribution system operators themselves, but also for potential new system users. Because we can not meet the needs of the market using existing tools – he adds.

Energy distributors have been working with the Energy Regulatory Authority since last year on the so-called card for the effective transformation of the distribution sector. Zasina explains that the work should be completed in June. The President expects that the developed solutions will facilitate the implementation of ambitious development plans. – If the approach to financing changes, the money will be spent on consolidating renewable resources. That’s the direction – he assured.

Consumer facilities are also a problem. During the design of the network, it was not expected that the energy would flow in two directions at medium and low voltage. – It is now known that energy generated at low voltage levels is not consumed locally, but flows to the medium voltage network. In general, you should not do this, because it is ineffective. The lower the voltage, the greater the energy loss. The more we send less voltage energy than the actual demand, the more we will waste, the president said.

Turning off appliances in households is also a common problem. This happens when there is no energy demand at a certain time and as a result the voltage in the network increases. In the meantime, when the voltage exceeds 256 V, the converters are required to turn them off.

From April 2022, the user of micro-devices will sell the excess energy produced at the market monthly price of energy, and from mid-2024 it will be the market hourly price. When there is a demand for electricity that cannot be met by a photovoltaic plant, the energy will have to be purchased from the grid at end-user prices.

In the past, the consumer included the excess energy produced in the network and received it when the demand exceeded the amount of energy produced. Depending on the size of the micro-installations, it was possible to take 80 or 70 percent. energy free. The network was considered a “virtual energy storage”.

When the changes were announced, many users accelerated their decisions to build photovoltaic plants to address the old, more affordable rules. – Since October, there has been a big leap in applications to connect panels to consumers. The increase was 20% in October, more than 30% in November and 50% in December. It was even bigger in January and February. In January 2021, we received 4,000. There were 12,000 appeals this year and 21,000 in February, the president said.

He predicts a decline in the coming months as many customers decide to invest earlier. However, over time, interest in micro-installations needs to be rebuilt. Zasina believes that the change in the settlements will not stop the development of industry. Information and awareness-raising activities will have to be carried out, which will disrupt the new reality.

Energy prices will persuade people to install panels on roofs or plots of land, along with an energy storage that will store unused energy. Consumers are offered small home storage of a few kilowatts on average between 3 and 10 kW. However, larger warehouses are also offered in Poland. This market will grow.

Ewa Wysocka, Monica Borkowska

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