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EVOLVDSO supports DSOs to adapt to new energy reality

The EVOLVDSO project will develop new tools for distribution system operators (DSOs) as their role evolves to adapt to a new energy reality.
EVOLVDSO supports DSOs to adapt to new energy reality
As renewable energy gains a greater share in the energy mix and demand becomes increasingly pro-active, power systems and their mode of operation are under pressure to evolve. This new energy reality will force the 3 000 distribution system operators (DSOs) in Europe to take on new or extended roles in the future. For the past two years, the EVOLVDSO has been exploring what shape these new roles might take under different future scenarios. Based on this research, the team is developing tools required for the DSOs of the future taking into account factors such as changing distributed renewable energy sources (DRES) penetration levels, degrees of technological progress, and customer acceptance patterns.

According to EVOLVDSO’s findings, the increased management complexity of the future system demands that the DSO evolves from its former ‘fit and forget’ approach towards an ‘Active Distribution System Management’ approach. Speaking at the EU Sustainable Energy Week conference earlier this month, Helena Gerard from project partner VITO elaborated on the roles that the team has already defined for DSOs: one new role, four evolving roles and three extended roles. The new role, Distribution Constraints Market Operator, comprises activities currently carried out by the transmission system operators (TSOs) such as contracting and activating flexibilities. An example of an evolving role, as defined by EVOLVDSO, is Smart Meter Operator which takes on the roll-out, maintenance and decommissioning of smart grid infrastructure.

Gerard noted, ‘The future DSO model will be an interactive one with interplay between the different roles and interaction with the authorities and regulators.’ The new model brings new challenges, and not just for the DSOs: ‘It brings new challenges and questions for the regulator: for example, the current regulatory framework does not allow for DSOs to contract flexibility and there are questions with respect to neutrality to be addressed as well as opening up the potential to assign certain roles to third parties.’

The future scenarios already defined by the team will be used in the initial simulations and a real life demonstration and testing of the selected tools and methods. This will be followed by impact assessment and proposals for a regulatory framework and market structure. Finally, ahead of project completion in December 2016, the team will deliver recommendations for mass deployment and wider dissemination solutions.

Marco Baron from project coordinator ENEL Distribuzione is confident that the project will deliver high level cost-benefit analysis for consumers and DSOs and facilitate and support energy markets with more distributed and renewable energy sources, empowering consumers to support the system in a cost-effective manner.

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Source: Based on event coverage at the EU Sustainable Energy Week conference and information from the EVOLVDSO website.

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