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These are two hot topics that have currently been making headlines across the industry. Let’s take a closer look.
‘DSO flexibility’ refers to the specific value products created by DSOs to incentivise flexibility providers to offer demand-side flexibility services. These services are used to help manage network constraints and/or maintain security of supply. The ‘flexibility’ referred to is the explicit call for demand turn down or generation turn up on the customer side of the meter.
With the amount of data processed globally continuously increasing, it may seem surprising that energy demand from data centres has remained stable for the past decade. This has been possible by minimising power requirements of non-IT equipment in data centres, leading to a drastic reduction in power usage effectiveness of many centres.
However, as more hyperscale data centres, which can have a demand of over 100 MW, are added to the grid and improvements in energy efficiencies provide fewer opportunities to save energy, we are looking at the role these large energy consumers can play in the energy transition.
In late 2019 we completed a major study into the market status, challenges and lessons learnt for European Distribution System Operators (DSOs) using demand side flexibility to manage their networks.
The study identified that the UK is the leading market in Europe – and probably the world - in terms of DSOs utilising demand side flexibility, with the Netherlands quite close behind. In most other countries, projects have not moved beyond pilots or trials.
The energy transition brings economic and socio-cultural challenges, as we move from high-carbon generation assets to low-carbon distributed assets. An increase of distributed energy resources (DERs) - such as in the Nordics where installed capacity increased by ~46% between 2005 and 2017 - is changing the nature of interactions between buildings, districts, cities, and the overarching energy system.
The impact and control level of distributed assets on the grid varies depending on their nature and connection type, from medium voltage assets such as CHPs and small wind turbines to low voltage assets such as heat pumps, solar PV and EVs. While the higher penetration of DERs may have a positive impact on the grid with increased reliability, energy loss reduction and reduction of voltage fluctuations, it can also create congestion problems - a challenge for distribution system operators (DSOs).
Influencing and controlling the timing of demand will be a core competence of companies in the electricity value chain.
The electricity value chain is increasingly focusing on the timing of demand. Less and less about the quantity of electricity generated and sold. More about kWs and kWhs at particular times.
Delta-ee may have been early to the conversation. We started talking 10-15 years ago about decentralised energy, customers not meter points; who has needs, wants and preferences, services beyond commodity. These dynamics have now firmly moved from being on the periphery of the debate to front and centre. Most companies now recognise the direction in which the market is heading, and it seems like we are approaching the cusp of change.
Developing the right strategy and tactics is however challenging – exciting, but challenging.
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