Constantinescu: Grid operators working to integrate hundreds of gigawatts from renewables

BEF-2023-Constantinescu Grid operators integrate hundreds gigawatts renewables Norela Constantinescu

Photo: Balkan Green Energy News


May 25, 2023




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May 25, 2023




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The solutions to the increasing challenges in adding wind and solar farms to the electricity networks in Europe are being developed as new technologies provide tools for energy storage, aggregation and demand response, according to a panel on flexibility and digitalization held at the Belgrade Energy Forum. Norela Constantinescu from ENTSO-E warned that it requires massive investments.

The scope of necessary expansion and upgrades in transmission and distribution networks to take in hundreds of gigawatts of electricity from renewables is a less known topic in the public sphere. The Belgrade Energy Forum, BEF 2023, covered the issue at the panel ‘Flexibility and digitalization for distributed energy production and consumption’.

Head of Innovation at ENTSO-E Norela Constantinescu highlighted the size of the planned wind and photovoltaic plants in the European Union. They are seen boosting the capacity in the two sectors by ten times, requiring huge investment as well as innovations to be fitted into the electric power system. Intermittent sources are sensitive to weather changes, so technical and legislative conditions must be developed along the way.

The electrificaton of heating and transportation is driving the demand increase

“We need to ensure integration at the distribution level, so – decentralized. And I see there that PV is going to be probably at around 600 GW by 2030, which is tremendous. As well as in a more centralized way. Because wind, especially offshore developments, are also centralized. So there are big capacities there,” Constantinescu told the audience. ENTSO-E is the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity.

Grid requires capacities for covering weekly or seasonal changes in supply, demand

She noted that offshore wind capacities are envisaged to reach 100 GW by the end of the decade and 300 GW by 2050. “We have also, on the other hand, the demand for electricity. Of course energy efficiency will play a role. But still, the electricity demand will increase, and probably driven by the heating sector, driven by the transport sector,” Constantinescu stated.

There are flexibility options for keeping the balance in the electricity networks that can be engaged for various ancillary and system services, she explained. The grid requires capacities for covering weekly or seasonal changes and for cases when there is not enough wind and solar irradiation, Constantinescu added. In her words, digitalization technology is applied for forecasting, observability and controllability.

EU will be consuming 3.6 times more electricity in 2050 than now

The power interconnection capacity needs to be doubled to 180 GW, Constantinescu underscored. When it comes to demand, it grows from the current 2.2 PWh to 5 PWh by the end of the decade and reaches 8 PWh per year in 2050. It clearly shows the challenges that transmission operators face, the official from ENTSO-E observed.

Transmission and distribution system operators (TSOs and DSOs) must maintain the security of supply and at the same time integrate electric vehicles, heat pumps, batteries and other devices into the system, Constantinescu noted.

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