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Secure electricity supply also possible in 2050

Infrastructure

In order to ensure a secure and reliable integrated energy system in 2050, technical and procedural adjustments for system security must be initiated, according to the results of the study “System Security 2050” by the System Services Platform of the German Energy Agency (dena).

‘Security of supply is a central energy policy objective. However, the discussion about a secure and reliable energy supply focuses too much on how to provide the required energy quantities. This does not go far enough. The operation of the system must also function smoothly despite increasing complexity’, explains Andreas Kuhlmann, Chairman of dena’s Management Board. ‘The dena study shows the necessary technical further development of decentralized systems and processes. A particular challenge is posed by the long service life of systems in the electricity grid. Technical specifications and regulatory framework conditions must be defined with foresight to ensure that plants which will be connected to the grid in the coming years have the capabilities for future system security.’

Decentralised systems for system security

System services secure the power supply by regulating frequency, voltage and power load in the grid. They are currently provided mainly by large thermal power plants, although decentralized generation facilities, consumers and storage facilities would also be technically capable of performing many tasks to ensure system security. In order to be able to use the potential of renewable energies and other grid users to ensure system security, the optimisation of coordination processes between grid operators and between grid and system operators is particularly important. The study shows that decentralised systems in the distribution networks have the potential to cover large parts of the stationary reactive power demand of the transmission networks in 2050, if they meet the necessary technical requirements and appropriate coordination processes are established.

In addition, the new dena study also shows the need for further technical development. For example, in the future there will be a considerable additional need for momentary reserves to cope with system splits, extreme events that put the energy system in an emergency state. Decentralised generators, storage facilities and loads could supply these, but would have to be equipped with grid-forming converters.

Regulations and incentives

For many system services, new network users such as producers, consumers and storage facilities are neither obliged by technical regulations to participate in the provision of system services, nor do they receive sufficient economic incentives under the current regulatory framework. The Clean Energy Package’s (CEP) internal electricity market directive prompts the member states to review the procurement of so-called non-frequency-bound system services by the end of the year. The focus here is on the current electricity system. The study “System Security 2050” shows that the further development of economic incentives and connection regulations must, however, take into account not only current challenges but also the needs in 2050.

Platform System Services

Dena has initiated the System Services platform to drive forward the further development of system services. The platform sees itself as a link between market players (grid operators, system operators, manufacturers etc.), authorities, politicians and the specialist public. In the System Services theme area, challenges and approaches to solutions are analysed against their technical background and evaluated in terms of their economic and social consequences. The cross-stakeholder discussions aim to build a bridge from technical topics to political issues.

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