The European power grids have been devised as centralised systems, centred around a few production units that can be regulated by the grid operator. For a centralised system, it is a major change that thousands of businesses and households start delivering intermittent electricity to the grid. The old one-way system develops into a two-way system. The existing grid can cope with flexible sources only to a certain degree, and in some places the grid even now (while the share of renewables is still low) gets stretched to the limits.
In the final document of e-harbours, “The Journey”, we state:
The grid works at the moment. The security of the energy supply in the EU countries is high, blackouts and power cuts are rare. The drawback: there is little economic or public pressure to increase the security of the power grid. It is perceived as ‘somebody else’s business’.
Adding more renewables will – eventually – overwhelm the system.Adding more renewables (without changing the energy system) will increase differences between supply and demand, straining the security of supply. Our showcases demonstrate what happens when an energy grid reaches capacity and renewables can’t be added anymore. Smart energy systems will help stabilize the grid, and make costly investments in grid capacity superfluous
Green production needs smart consumption. Putting more money in renewable energy does not help anymore to realize the energy goals of the European Union. (…) The subsidies that are directed towards enhancing renewable energies should be diminished, in favour of an approach that stimulates the development of markets for flexibility (like the capacity market),and makes public funding available for smart energy investments.
Also see our Point of Departure document (2011) Smart Grids and Virtual Power Plants