The energy industry will demand technologies that organize the complex management processes of the decentralized integrated energy systems and provide communication between all participants, says Nikos Hatziargyriou, the speaker of the III World Smart Energy Summit, Chairman of the Board of the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator (HEDNO, Greece).
We talked with Nikos about trends in the digitalization of power grids, as well as the role of distributed generation and renewable energy sources.
What trends do you see in Europe, America and Canada in the field of energy and modern technologies?
The ETIP SNET (European Technology and Innovation Platform for Smart Networks for Energy Transition) vision for the European Energy Systems in 2050, foresees a low-carbon, secure, reliable, cost-efficient and market based integrated system supplying all of society and paving the way for a fully carbon-neutral circular economy. A similar vision is shared in America.
Decarbonization, decentralization and digitalization are nowadays global trends. The basic technologies concern renewable generation (mainly in the form of distributed generation), technologies for the full engagement of active customers, storage (multiple forms) and integration of all energy carrier networks (electricity, heating&cooling, gas) and even transport, water and data. Network digitalization is the key technology that enables the efficient interaction of the above elements of future energy systems.
Which technologies are leading? What the reason?
Technologies that enable the extensive digitalization of the energy systems are the main focus currently. These include:
Technologies that organize the complex management processes of the decentralized, integrated energy system and ensure communication between all actors are leading the way to the future smart energy system.
What are the positive and negative effects of technology distributed generation and Microgrids?
Distributed generation (DG), including solar PV modules, other small-scale renewable sources, like WTs and kW-scale CHP applications are connected at the distribution networks, close to the points of consumption. These energy resources offer distinct advantages to customers and utilities, i.e. improved energy efficiency, lower losses, minimisation of overall energy consumption, reduced environmental impact (based on RES or high efficiency microturbines), improvement of reliability and resilience, network operational benefits (reduction of congestions) and more cost efficient electricity infrastructure replacement. Microgrids are distribution systems with distributed energy sources (DER), including DG, storage and controllable loads, that are operated connected to the main power network or islanded, in a controlled, coordinated way, thus increasing further the reliability and resilience of the system. Their control feature makes Microgrids the ideal structure to unlock the full benefits of DER. On the negative side, the wide penetration of DER and Microgrids reduces power flows with a direct effect on the revenues of Distribution System Operators and thus on their ability to maintain and upgrade their networks. This effect can be offset by a more efficient market design.
Do you know the specifics of Russia? What modern energy technologies are suitable for successful implementation in Russia in your opinion?
I don’t know much, I know of course that Russia is the world's largest producer of crude oil and the second-largest producer of dry natural gas. In my opinion, the coupling of electricity, heat and gas networks enabled by a large-scale roll-out of conversion and storage technologies is a promising direction for successful implementation in Russia. Coupling electricity and gas networks with electrolyser and methanation units enables long-term (seasonal) storage and flexibility options for the electricity grids (Power to Gas – PtG and Gas to Power and Heat – GtP&H) and supply for the transport and industry sectors. This can provide adequacy of energy supply even at times when renewable generation is low and demand very high, such as in windless winter weeks. It is important to stress that a fully carbon-neutral circular economy is a global, long-term goal. The successful implementation of Renewable Generation in the energy mix, both in centralized and distributed form, is an energy development that cannot be neglected.
Your advice to managers of companies that have decided to introduce new energy technologies. Where to begin?
The energy industry is undergoing significant transformation in recent years driven mainly by decentralization and digitalization. For energy company managers, the most important way to prepare for the change is to identify opportunities that these energy industry trends present before they disrupt their business. One of the main trends is the rise of distributed energy resources (DER) and the increasing sophistication of demand-side response (DSR) technologies. The integration of the new capacity of DER and DSR into existing grids provides major challenges to electric utilities and system operators. Utilities must be able to adapt their business models to take advantage of these new technologies and market opportunities. For example, exploiting the flexibility provided by DER and DSR can lead to a more efficient planning and operation of the system. The digitalization of the energy networks is another important trend that managers need to embrace. Distribution system operators manage daily millions of real-time data and information flows through digital communication processes. Data management will continue being one of the key features of smart grid design, together with infrastructure for digitalization and automation and will gradually transform energy operators in to data centric companies. Technologies, such as big data, the Industrial Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence will grow their importance in the energy business.
The discussion about the prospects for smart energy will be held in Moscow on March 26-27 as a part of the III World Smart Energy Summit Russia 2019. Nikos Hatsiargiriu will present the MicroGrid concept and the experience of Greece at the summit.
Join the summit participants today.