Integrating local renewables into the grid – E.ON leading the way

10 January, 2020
Integrating local renewables into grid

Solar and wind power are two of the most scalable energy sources around.

However, it’s rapid and widespread growth can sometimes find spots in the grid, where physical limitations do not allow them to be connected in a quick and affordable way.  

Upgrading the grid will take time, which is why E.ON has teamed up with several high-profile international partners to come up with a set of interim solutions which can speed up this process. These grid solutions will also foster the creation of new energy communities and allow locally-generated renewable electricity to be stored and used whenever demand calls for it. 

Current grid issues

Wind turbines and photovoltaic power will play a massive role in helping Europe decarbonise 85 per cent of its electricity supply by 2050. It’s expected that by then they’ll generate nearly 60 per cent of all energy.

With renewable energy increasingly taking the lead, the energy world is transforming. It’s getting more decentralized with network connection points multiplying and energy feed-in further fragmenting.

This changing energy world means that electricity is fed into the grid from numerous decentralized generation plants and that electricity generation and power flows are becoming increasingly volatile. A number of companies worldwide are investing millions of euros to make grids fit for the energy revolution, with E.ON alone already contributing with around €1.6 billion per year across Europe.

However, network expansion not only costs money, it also takes time. In networks with a high share of renewable energies, planning the necessary grid expansion can take years until implementation. After all, grid was initially designed to distribute energy to consumers in a one-way flow.

To manage these complex energy flows while ensuring a reliable electricity supply, networks are becoming smarter. Still, planning the necessary grid expansion and integrating renewable energy into the networks can take years until implementation, while innovative solutions are needed already today. 


Integrating local renewables into the grid – E.ON leading the way

To tackle these challenges and to propose an alternative to speed-up the connection of renewable energy plants, E.ON has become the Technical Director in IElectrix – a 15-member consortium, supported by Horizon 2020, the EU’s €80 billion research and innovation programme.

IElectrix looks at speeding up the integration of local renewable sources with electricity distribution grids in five demonstration sites with different regulatory regimes. Sites are located in Austria, India, Germany and Hungary, with further expansion expected in Greece and Sweden.

At its core, IElectrix also hopes to create a pan-European market for mobile battery energy storage systems (BESS) – one that can connect renewables to the grid in a faster and more affordable way. BESS allows Distribution System Operators (DSOs) to quickly balance the power supply and to maintain the power quality in the local area, without solely relying on expensive and time-consuming reinforcements.

IElectrix also wants to facilitate the creation of ‘citizen energy communities’ and peer-to-peer energy trading. Thanks to IElectrix, communities in several of the pilot areas – including the tourist town of Zánka by Hungary’s Lake Balaton – will benefit from higher shares of sustainable power coming from their local solar power plants, therefore enabling a faster and affordable energy transition.  

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