To meet new EU regulations on climate change and decarbonisation, the electricity sector is going through a transition phase towards a more sustainable energy system, while trying to remain reliable and affordable. This means that the system has renewable energy sources (wind, solar, biomass, hydro, etc.) as a major part of the generation process. Some of these sources are also intermittent in nature, thus making the generation process variable and very dependent on the weather pattern. The ways in which electricity is consumed has also changed due to charging stations required for an increasing number of electric vehicles as part of the transportation system.
Renewable energies accounted for almost 30% of the electricity consumption in Europe in 2016. By 2030 this share should reach at least 54% for the European Union to be able to meet its 2030 energy targets, according to a JCR report. To ensure that energy coming from remote areas and intermittent sources reaches European consumers through high performing transmission and distribution grids, the components of these grids must be fit-for-purpose.
The infrastructure required to transport and distribute this variable generated energy must be more resilient to fluctuations in frequency and power levels to always ensure a reliable and secure service to end users. This is quite a different set-up to the more traditional electricity grid of today. The upcoming modern smart grid from now onwards will have more monitoring and controllable feature requirements to provide the desired level of service. Network and system operators often operate in a strict regulatory framework and have an assigned task to fulfil. However, the dimensions and metrics they use in designing and operating their grid will need to change, because of the emergence of distributed generation, less predictable and more correlated loads, and dynamic load situations that can change much faster than before, caused by massive installations of solar panels or charging stations of electric vehicles in a neighbourhood.