Title: Power Distribution Systems in Europe: Present Status and Challenges towards a further Integration of Distributed Generation
Citation: Proceedings of Power Grid 2007 Conference
Publisher: PennWell
Publication Year: 2007
JRC N°: JRC35489
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC35489
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: In response to energy market restructuring, environmental pressures, and concerns about the security of energy supply, the European electric power system, both at transmission and distribution level, is experiencing changes in the operation mode and facing renovations in the architectural design. At transmission level, the bulk power system expansion - in terms of new large-scale generation and added transmission capacity, both needed to adequately meet the increase in electricity demand - is curbed by techno-economic, environmental, and social constraints. At distribution level, a number of recent trends offer the potential to overcome some of the major constraints on the upstream transmission/generation system. In particular, given the steady technological progress in cogeneration and renewable power generation, the construction of small- or medium-sized power plants near consumer locations allows for a minimisation of electricity losses, an improved network support and an increase in efficiency of the overall electricity system. This, in turn, may result in avoiding or postponing the need for building new large power plants and/or transmission lines. These power plants closer to customers are the main elements of the well-known Distributed Generation (DG) architecture. DG expansion within the European distribution networks is however limited by technical and regulatory location-specific issues (e.g. in terms of voltage levels, network structure, availability and mix of distributed power sources, grid ownership and management). Furthermore, there are still major issues concerning the integration of DG technology into the distribution network, mainly in terms of flexibility of the generating units (production cycling) and management of the local systems (need for local power balancing resources). In fact, it has to be stressed that at the outset the distribution systems were generally not designed to operate in presence of DG technologies. The present paper investigates the current status and the forthcoming challenges related to distribution systems in Europe, with a particular attention to the technical and regulatory issues of DG integration. It examines the status of the distribution grids in some Member States and overall in the EU. This analysis of the distribution system will be matched with forecasts on DG by other studies. This comparison will yield the shortcomings and the opportunities for expanding distributed power generation.
JRC Directorate:Energy, Transport and Climate

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