The number of power sources connected to the network is increasing constantly, especially in the last decade. These could be power sources supporting the network in remote areas, highly efficient CHPs providing both electrical and thermal energy, or renewable power sources like photovoltaics and wind turbines. There are two topics inevitably linked to these power sources types – energy production efficiency and emission reduction which, through different types of support, incentives, tax reduction drive the installed capacity of these sources.
A Brief History...
Some 20 or even 15 years ago, the situation was clearly different. Sure, there were CHPs, however of no where near as efficient as they are today, not in the installed annual capacity as today, and very low number of photovoltaic or wind produced energy – clearly because of the costs of that technology. There were the traditional centralised big power sources like coal, nuclear or water power plants maintaining stable network system and the energy flow was from these sources to the consumer.
The Situation Today:
In last years, several, not only European countries, decided to move towards 'clean' energy. The EU 2020 Climate & Energy Package, known also as 20/20/20, aims to decrease greenhouse gases by 20% (compared to 1990), produce at least 20% of the used energy from renewables and improve the energy efficiency by 20%. The 2030 Climate & Energy Framework goes even further, aiming to get to the ratio of 40/27/27. There were, and still are, several support schemes for the investment and usage of renewable sources and efficient CHP. For example, installed capacity in renewable sources in Germany can theoretically cover, (and in favourably conditions really does cover) 2/3 of the energy used during a given day.
Challenges We Are Facing:
The higher number of smaller power sources (compared to the big power stations), including new photovoltaic and wind power sources puts challenges on the transmission and distribution network and their operators – the transmission and distribution systems were in majority cases designed for dedicated energy direction flow (from big power sources to the end users) which is not true today , due to large amount of decentralised power sources, and in the future the situation is expected to be even worse.
On top of that the renewable energy sources like photovoltaics or wind which produce the energy based on actual weather conditions cause sudden changes of energy amount in the grid, which put an additional effort to the TSO to keep the system stable and maintain nominal frequency.
Challenges the number of these power sources connected to the existing power networks brings are neither small nor trivial.
For more information regarding ComAp's Gas and CHP solutions please click here.