The transformation of the energy landscape
The energy landscape has already seen huge changes, but is about to go through its biggest transformation yet.
At Elia Group, our commitment to innovation is linked to our anticipation of the impact of these changes, whether immediately or longer term.
The digitalisation of the energy sector is underway: new technologies are changing the way we produce, transport and consume electricity.
It is speeding up the transition towards clean energy, bringing the benefits of the energy transition direct to the consumer.
Digitalisation enables market players to deliver services the consumer wants, and enables the system operator to better run a low-carbon power system, thanks in turn to the increasing contribution from consumers’ flexibility.
New digital advances like big data, cloud computing, AI and blockchain are already reality for our sector.
This trend is in large part a result of the other three. Increased use of renewables, the movement towards decentralised generation, and advances in digital technology all combine to mean the current grid is struggling to meet region-specific needs. What’s more, grid development lags behind the fast changes of renewable generation. Across Europe we are seeing more congestion problems and higher redispatching costs, in an increasingly variable and complex power system.
Given the interconnectedness of European power markets, responding to these challenges often requires a supranational response. This can be at the level of European regions, such as the Regional Security Coordination Initiatives, or at the level of the European Union, such as the Ten Year Network Development Plan prepared by ENTSO-E.
The biggest game changer in Europe is decarbonisation – the rise of renewable energy sources. This is not just driven by the need to counter climate change and build a sustainable future, but also by the technological developments that mean cheaper and more powerful renewables. We expect this trend to continue and even speed up, which we have to anticipate in grid development and operation.
Different types of renewable energy sources in different locations can support the sustainability and stability of the whole European electricity system, which needs electricity flows across wide areas. This means we’ll need to be ready for longer-distance transmission, as renewable energy sources have to be in exactly the right place, but we still need to manage variability in both production and demand.
The increasing fragmentation of the sector, characterised by decentralised energy and the increasing number of market players (potentially millions of “prosumers”) makes the system more complex to run. TSOs will need more flexibility to keep the system in balance.