Electricity grid cannot cope with ‘traffic jams’

Fri 10 December 2021

The electricity grid is becoming 'full' in more and more places. Why does this happen, and more importantly, what does it take to solve this? In the Netherlands, the electricity network is of high quality, which means that things almost never go wrong and we hardly cope with failure of the network. But in Amsterdam and Alkmaar we now see that there is too much demand and it pinches regularly.

The existing electricity grid is designed to transport electricity from large power plants to the users. But that no longer fits the current situation. More and more homes are being added and companies are starting up or expanding. In addition, society is electrifying and digitizing at a rapid pace and electricity is being generated in more and more places, for example in wind farms, solar parks and by private individuals. All of this electricity has to pass through the existing network, distribution stations and transformer houses.

Problems for businesses and individuals
When a road becomes full of cars, there is, however annoying, room for a traffic jam. This is not possible on the electricity grid. If grid operators allow too many parties on the full grid, this is at the expense of reliability. Then malfunctions occur. A problem here is that large users such as shops, catering or offices cannot be connected. Grid operators are obliged to connect to the grid in order of application. As a result, it may happen that a casino is given priority over a school, for example. A very undesirable situation. Less drastic, but a problem for those concerned, is temporarily switching off solar panels on a home or longer waiting time for a home charging station or heat pump.

Looking forward
To continue to provide everyone with energy in the future, the electricity grid must be strengthened. Building additional distribution stations and laying thousands of miles of cables is a monster job. One in three streets have to be opened up. Including all the preparatory work - finding the right locations, obtaining permits and finding the staff - a project cab take up from 5 to 8 years. And with that, the climate targets for 2030 are rapidly approaching. In the meantime, smart solutions are needed. For example, companies that are located next to each other with different usage peaks make use of the network at different times. Or by storing energy in batteries. Close cooperation between parties is necessary for optimal use of the current network and its expansion. Everything to keep up with developments and prevent 'traffic jams' on the net.

Your contribution to better power quality
Are you dealing with challenges in the field of power or voltage in your professional environment, for example as a network operator, municipality, province, installation-, measurement- or industrial company? In the PAOTM course Power Quality on April 5 and 6, you will learn, under the supervision of prof. dr. Sjef Cobben of the Technical University of Eindhoven, not only what causes, characteristics and consequences there are, but also which solutions can be applied in traditional and new technologies. After completion you have the most up-to-date knowledge and skills that you can immediately apply in your own practice.

Source: Noord-holland.nl
Photo: TenneT

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