We must set the energy distribution from scratch

The electricity distribution sector does not create energy transformation, but it must be part of the process that allows change. The way to this is through investment. Its main trends are related to the security and reliability of energy supply, which is the daily life of the sector, and the role of operators as market moderators (including investments in smart meters). Similar problems are faced with heat distribution – the result of the debate “Energy distribution – investment time” at the 14th European Economic Congress.

  • – We are at a point where we are building the energy system from scratch at the level of distribution networks. Rafał Gawin, President of the Bureau of Energy Regulation (ERO), said it was time to make the regulation more qualitative, that is, goal-oriented.
  • – Users of distribution systems become active market participants, active system users, and the role of operators is to give our customers the opportunity to take advantage of all the opportunities offered by the energy market – says Robert Zasina, President of Taurona Dystrybucja.
  • – The most important thing for me is that the DSO is truly independent and the connection process is transparent, we, as investors in renewable energy, have clear network development plans for the development of the next generation – said Grzegorz Wiśniewski, President. IEO.

See also: Most money in electricity distribution goes to compounds

Power system at the level of distribution from scratch

Rafał Gawin, President of the Bureau of Energy Regulation (ERO), notes that the electricity distribution sector must become part of the energy transformation process because it is not created or shaped by it.

– In principle, distribution and any network activity are activities of a public and social dimension, which must support economic and technological development or change in the energy system, as well as ensure the implementation of this change. It is not the sector that creates or invents this change, it just fits into it, it helps to make the process happen – explains Rafał Gawin.

The President of the Energy Regulatory Authority emphasizes that the transformation of the energy sector is a process initiated and implemented not only by energy companies, but also by institutional and individual energy consumers.

– Transformation is new and there is a big task on the distribution side to contribute to this transformation or to achieve this transformation. Today, distribution plays a very important role – because the transformation has both a local, scattered dimension, and today most of the changes are actually visible in distribution networks – commented Rafał Gawin.

The president of the Energy Regulatory Authority noted that the transformation of distribution is a change in the entire network model, because the distribution is not designed to send energy from consumers to the grid, not adapted to the “exchange” of energy in the neighborhood – that is, local management.

– We are at a point where we are building the energy system from scratch at the level of distribution networks – and this process must be managed properly. Distribution networks require modernization not only in terms of transformation, but also in terms of age, so this process must be well planned – said Rafał Gawin.

Yaroslav Kvasek, president of the board of PGE Dystrybucja, also noted that previously it was not planned to transfer distribution networks from energy consumers to the energy network.

– This phenomenon may not surprise everyone at all, because we, as distribution system operators (DSO), predicted that sooner or later we will have to face such a phenomenon, said Yaroslav Kvasek. – I think it is better or worse, but each DSO was ready for it in some way, because we knew that the connection of consumers and the modernization of the network must take place at a specific time and place. This cannot be done in a year or a year and a half.

The president of PGE Dystrybucja said the pandemic has slowed investment somewhat and will affect investment, “now we see completely new phenomena” and “I think everyone will agree that investment, so to speak, will go” is a little different between physical performance and finance.

– As an operator, we increase the funds for investments from year to year – to fulfill the obligations related to the connection of both consumers and farms (renewable sources – editor’s note). We also take into account that when it comes to merging consumers or other producers, this phenomenon will slow down a bit and then become more stable, said Yaroslav Kvasek.

Tasks of operators and two main flows of investments

Robert Zasina, president of the board of Taurona Dystrybucja, said that two main trends need to be identified to simplify the role of DSOs and the direction in which they will invest: energy security and sustainability, and energy-related activities. the role of operators as moderators of the energy market.

Robert Zasina said that the security and uninterrupted supply of energy is a key task since the beginning of the activities of enterprises such as the DSO, and “every year we look for solutions to ensure the reliability, uninterrupted power supply and energy quality.” are the best. “

– The second most important area that we have to separate from zero as part of the energy transformation is the role of operators as moderators of the energy market. Distribution system users are becoming active market participants, active system users, and the role of operators is to give our customers the opportunity to take advantage of all the opportunities offered by the energy market, explained Robert Zasina.

Taurona Dystrybucja’s CEO said that when it comes to energy security and continuity, investment activities are mainly related to connections (“connections are the most expensive”).

– In the last two years, the number of applications for the terms of accession and the conclusion of accession agreements has been high, unprecedented. The pace of receiving these requests has increased so rapidly that we are currently focusing on network connectivity and network upgrades, but it is about connectivity, ”Robert Zasina explained. – The second trend is the energy market, where the role of DSOs. The main issue is to replace meters with smart meters. (…) We also need to create an IT infrastructure to manage the measurement data we will collect from the meters – and here comes the issue of launching the Central Information System for the Energy Market.

Grzegorz Kinelski, energy trading director at Veolia Energy Contracting Poland, said the heat distribution segment was facing problems with the electricity distribution sector.

– In the heating sector, in the heat distribution sector, for example, we face similar problems with the distribution of electricity due to dissipated heat sources, ie the connection of smaller or larger sources to the network – said Grzegorz Kinelski. – Increasing heat recovery from industrial facilities, municipal facilities to the heating network and must be balanced. In addition, green heat is also “released” into the grid, biochemically generated or produced – as we do – in biomass cogeneration plants.

He also said that customer expectations have increased, for example, in terms of the accuracy of heat measurements. intelligent measurement.

– Like electric networks, central heating pipes also wear out. It may be a little faster, but we have the same problems with heat distribution as with electricity distribution, said Grzegorz Kinelski.

Waiting for the development of transparent, electricity generation

Grzegorz Wiśniewski, president of the board of the Renewable Energy Institute, said the distribution of electricity was “conservative by nature, for good and bad reasons.” According to him, the distribution “simply adapts to the system.”

– We have implemented a project on rural distribution networks and the application of distributed energy there, small business consumers and we have measured these farms – in which DSO I will not say – to see what is happening there and how consumer sources can affect the network. – Grzegorz Vishnevsky said.

He also said that, on the other hand, we can imagine the so-called umbrella projects in cities where the transformer “falls on several dozen prosumer installations and there is another problem, because excessive voltage and automation separates installations at production peaks.”

“ I think the real point is the transformation process, the adaptation of networks to change (and probably adaptation), but I’m sure they can do it faster. This is where planning fails and the search for the cheapest, best solutions fails, Grzegorz Vishnevsky said.

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