As part of its ongoing contribution to advance the development of deployment of smart grids, the International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) has focused its latest discussion paper on the achievement of flexible power delivery in the light of the changing dynamics of electric grid systems.

The paper, by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Phil Overholt and RSE research coordinator Diego Cirio, focuses on the policies and regulations in the United States and Europe, and how these have changed to accommodate new developments in the operation, planning, and market areas of their respective grid systems.

With the changing dynamics of electric grid systems around the world, decision makers are facing numerous new challenges to operating, planning, and expanding their systems, the paper reads. New technologies are challenging conventional regulatory regimes, while new policies and consumer demands are similarly challenging the currently available technologies. For example, as the demand for cleaner energy sources gains ground, technological improvements are necessary to integrate large amounts of variable energy sources such as solar and wind into various electricity systems, while ensuring acceptable levels of reliability and security of the system. Similarly, as consumers engage more with electricity systems, demand profiles and consumer choice, among other demand side elements, are also challenging our system, providing opportunities for demand side management and related technologies.

Regarding transmission grid operation and management, the paper says this can be complicated by a variety of factors, including diverse resources and complex ownership or jurisdictional structures. Understanding how these resources interact with the electric grid and the potential implications is critical. The U.S. and Europe have a number of technical and institutional opportunities they are exploring to help manage the complexity of the grid and maintain reliability.

Similarly transmission planning and expansion efforts in both the U.S. and Europe involve complex and time consuming issues. Some of these issues include planning a reliable system, the cost allocation of infrastructure and social and environmental impacts. The U.S. and Europe are exploring several opportunities to help alleviate these issues.

There are also challenges with market structure and operations, and the U.S. and Europe are attempting to overcome these by capitalizing on technical and institutional opportunities.

The paper concludes that overcoming many of the future challenges – such as accomplishing or deploying retrofitting programs of distributed generation, and developing the regulatory and technical framework for smart distribution grids – requires a systematic, holistic, integrated approach that considers technologies, policies and markets.

Further, several activities are needed to help achieve the long term smart grid vision:

  • For transmission planning more coordination and cooperation among all stakeholders and national and international entities are needed to help align policy making, technology development and markets and operations.
  • Technologies and institutional changes can help to alleviate liberalization and higher renewable energy system utilization, increased cross border flows, congestion and uncertainties for planning.
  • Technologies should be better incorporated into the transmission planning process.
  • Development of clear guidelines, procedures, and tools can help manage the complex nature of transmission planning.

Read the ISGAN discussion paper “Flexible Power Delivery Systems: An Overview of Policies and Regulations and Expansion Planning and Market Analysis for the United States and Europe” HERE