Europe's electricity system is being steered toward a major transformation by technological, economic and business forces. According to the consulting and research firm GlobalData the future changes include decentralization of its power systems.
Sameer Joshi, GlobalData's research director, states that "initiatives such as carbon emissions reduction targets, investments in renewable energy sources (RES) and the development of increasingly advanced power transmission and distribution (T&D) technologies, along with growing electricity demand, are transforming Europe's electricity."
GlobalData research predicts that electricity generation from RES will expand at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.6 percent during the 2013-2020 period. This growth comes from the widespread acceptance of wind and solar power. During the same period coal generated electricity only increased at a CAGR of 3.7 percent.
There is a shift in terms of electricity generation and transmission, it is shifting from a monopolized and concentrated ownership, which is comprised of large and regulated power stations, to a 'competitive and liberalized environment' that will have a number of energy producers, micro-generation facilities and unbundled electricity systems.
Smartgrid transformation (photo via Greenbiz.com)
"This transformation in Europe was primarily driven by Directive 2009/28/EC, which promotes the growth of renewable energy generation. The EU has set the ‘20-20-20' target, which comprises three objectives to be achieved by 2020: to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 20 percent compared with 1990 levels; to increase the share of energy obtained from RES to 20 percent and improve the EU's overall energy efficiency by 20 percent," Joshi added.
Renewable Energy Sources are becoming increasingly integrated into the grid. Several European countries are conducting new research programs and demonstrations to encourage the use of Distributed Generation (DG) and smart grids.
On Feb. 2, 2013, Iberdrola, a Spanish company, worked with 11 utilities and research institutions in Europe to develop the European iGREENGrid project. This projects goal is to enhance the reliability, stability and quality of power supply in the distribution network through the integration of RES into the grid.
"Despite increased funding and support for smart grid demonstrations, along with more investment in RES and a decline in coal-fired generation, it is too early to predict the fall of the large centralized electricity systems and the start of a new era of DG," Joshi explains.
The DG grid integration does face major barriers. Most of those barriers are challenges that involve connecting to the grid, a lack of curtailment rules and compensation issues. Another challenge is the low consideration of renewable energies in the national transmission system plans.
Edited by Alisen Downey