Distribution system operators (DSOs) may face big challenges and need to prepare for the future due to increased distributed renewable generation, energy storage systems, electric vehicles, demand resources, and information and communication technologies.

DSOs need to prepare for a transition path from today’s passive systems to future intelligent distribution systems. This they can do by making a strategic investment in network infrastructure, upgrading monitoring and control systems, introducing novel business models, and making policy and regulation changes to enable the active participation of market actors in the overall network management.

Ankur Srivastava

But the situation for the DSOs looks different in different countries. That is why UNITED-GRID has produced a baseline description and defined key indicators that can help DSOs to identify necessary actions.

-This work is important as DSOs need an assessment framework through which they can evaluate their future-readiness and consecutively identify development gaps for plausible future scenarios and eventually make themselves ready for these challenges, says Ankur Srivastava, at Chalmers University of Technology, one of the authors of the baseline description.

Which are the key indicators?

-The most relevant advancements are related to technical requirements for DSOs, the available market structures, policies, and regulations are also instrumental. The market and policy aspects will have a potential impact on the DSOs but are not directly controlled by them. Thus, all these aspects are interrelated, and their exclusion may limit the possible advancement in one direction or reduce the possible benefit in another. As a result, the indicators are classified as technical, market and policy.

The proposed framework to assess the transition plan for the DSOs.

-The investigated DSOs (Göteborg Energi, ENEXIS and SOREA) have shown diversity in terms of technology, policy and market readiness. For instance, in case of the distributed energy resources indicator, presently there is limited local renewable energy production in all DSOs. The EVs (electric vehicles) demand is not high in all the networks, but the infrastructure is being built. Only ENEXIS has a small amount of energy storages provisions. Although, none of the networks has provision for flexibility today.

How can DSOs use these indicators?

-The interested DSOs can fill the proposed indicators list (for their systems) and the assessment can be done based on their responses based on this framework. For reference, a summary of current status assessment for the involved DSOs is presented in the report.

What will be the next step?

– The work presented in this report would eventually serve as input for identifying the plausible scenarios description, policy recommendations, pathways development and finally a transition plan for DSOs along with the identification of vital areas of development where they should focus on for a smoother transition towards future distribution grids, says Ankur Srivastava.

REPORT: Baseline description of distribution grid management

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This project has received funding from the European Community's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme under grant agreement 773717

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