The largest country in Northern Europe, Sweden, is famous for many things, from the beautiful sceneries, historical sites, food, and liberal culture. Remarkably is the environmental consciousness that runs through most of its citizens and residents. The clean streets and green sites say a lot about how well the Swedish know the value of natural resources, and this is evident in their adoption of renewable energy on a large scale.
Renewable energy in Sweden has developed over time, majorly from hydropower and bioenergy. This growth can be linked to the availability of moving water and biomass from its 63% forest cover. The topography also encourages the use of hydropower. In addition, there are 3600 wind turbines scattered all around Sweden capable of powering 30,000 homes. Wind power constitutes 17% of the renewable energy used in Sweden.
As of 2019, the supply of power in Sweden was primarily from hydropower plants in the northern region of Sweden and nuclear power plants in the southern. Southern Sweden is busier and requires more power than their nuclear power plants can provide, so the northern region generates more power for the south.
The Growth of Renewable Energy in Sweden.
Sweden has been making significant efforts to invest in renewable energy and utilize it for day-to-day activities. Currently, up to 54.6% of the energy used in Sweden is from renewable energy sources. In 2016, the world’s first electrified road was opened in Sweden, they also use waste, biomass, solar power, wind power, and hydropower more than most countries.
Sweden was the first country to meet its renewable energy targets set by the European Union (EU) for 2020. This was achieved eight years ahead of time due to the continuous input to renewable energy and efforts to sustain it. The government of Sweden seeks to make the country climate neutral by 2045 and hopes to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2040. While hydropower (45%) and nuclear power plants (30%) take the lead (more than 75%) in the generation of renewable energy-based power, wind turbines come in third, before bioenergy and solar power.
Bioenergy sources have a significant growth in Sweden. They sometimes run out of biowaste and have to import to meet their needs. Power generated from biowaste is usually used for heating, which is a very significant need in Sweden. Up to 93% of residential and 83% of commercial buildings get their heat generated from biofuel and waste through the district heating sector.
Who/What is driving the growth of renewable energy in Sweden? Many factors are associated with the demand for power by industries, supportive policies, and the quick adoption of renewable energy technologies. The industrial sector of Sweden is a large one, needing a lot of power supply continuously. With the availability and development of renewable energy, the Swedish government can do a lot to meet the targets ahead.
Policies Aiding The Growth Of Renewable Energy In Sweden
The high carbon taxes and cheap energy prices are helping the growth of renewable energy in Sweden. However, climate change has been a great concern as many industries in Sweden are capable of carbon emissions. The carbon tax has been an excellent way to address the issues of emissions in Sweden and give incentives and opportunities for renewable energy alternatives. It is levied on all forms of fossil fuel relative to their carbon content.
Also, the Swedish Energy Agency, which has existed since 1998, was recently commissioned to find strategies to include more solar power in the mix to make the 100% renewable energy target for 2040. Furthermore, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Swedish Energy Agency have been developing national strategies to build sustainable wind power.
Ongoing Renewable Energy Projects in Sweden
Renewable projects continue to spring up in Sweden. An example is a partnership between Uniper Engineering and Fortum eNext in three projects relating to Nordic hydro and physical trading optimization, hydrogen, and wind and solar development. They plan to complete it in 2025 and have gone past planning the coming together to offer services to utilities and energy-intensive companies.
Vattenfall, a government-owned company, also announced in 2019 to upgrade the hydropower plants and increase their capacity to 600 megawatts by 2023. It is very significant to Sweden’s goals for renewable energy, and the output is almost equivalent to that of 100 wind turbines. Currently, up to 20 power plants have been upgraded, and 450MW more have been generated already.
More so, in Ludivika city, 48 apartments have been linked as prosumers forming an energy community. Each has solar photovoltaics, thermal energy storage devices, and heat pumps to constantly use and produce renewable energy. In addition, despite being more of a collection of 1970 houses, they have smart meters which function effectively for an efficient power supply.
Experts’ Predictions on Renewable Energy in Sweden
With the impact of COVID-19 in 2020 and the trends of events, forecasts predict a CAGR of 2% in the Swedish renewable energy market by 2025. This prediction is due to policies and initiatives that are in support of renewable energy. Also, hydropower is likely to dominate the market as more upgrades are being planned and organized. However, experts also feel that the maintenance of renewable energy systems would limit the market.
There may have been concerns on how Sweden would handle the fluctuations in power from renewable energy, but these concerns are now being addressed. Sweden is known for its fast adaptation to technologies, and this has helped them grow. So far, the risks associated with diving into new technologies have been properly managed and implemented in the proper management of renewable energy systems.
With the recent push to integrate renewable energy into the existing energy infrastructures, it is becoming clear that there is a need to adjust its operation mode. This need is apparent because most renewable energy sources depend on the weather and are not easy to predict or plan with. Moreover, the power generated from such sources as wind energy and solar energy is highly stochastic. This situation calls for the application of advanced technologies for renewable energy forecasting and scheduling.
Renewable energy forecasting helps foresee what changes are expected in the amount of energy that will be generated in the future. This prior knowledge is informative for energy suppliers to plan the input they put into generating systems. Renewable energy scheduling also works side-by-side with forecasting because it is mainly determined by the predictions made by the energy forecasting models.
How renewable energy forecasting and scheduling work
Recent advancements in artificial intelligence have improved the job of weather forecasting (done by meteorologists) through machine learning. As a result, grid operators can leverage machine learning techniques to determine the amount of renewable energy that will be used and purchased by consumers at a particular time.
Machine learning (which is used for renewable energy forecasting) works because a software system learns patterns from recent data and develops an improved analysis for the future. In order to achieve this, a forecasting model is designed to fit a particular situation over several days. In addition, the data collected must be valid, accurate, reliable, consistent, and complete to be effective.
What You Should Know About Renewable Energy Forecasting And Scheduling
Here are five important things about renewable energy forecasting and scheduling you should know;
1. Renewable energy forecasting is built around short-term forecasting
Forecasting can be done with different horizons: short, medium, and long-term. Short-term forecasting involves forecasting from a few minutes to a few days ahead. It is used for day-to-day activities, and this time frame applies to renewable energy prediction.
The lead times in short-term forecasting are such that the changes in weather over a short period can be analyzed and used to predict the data to be used the next time. Renewable energy forecasting and scheduling require updated and recent data as frequently as possible, and short-term forecasting achieves that. The amazing part of it all is that there would be little or no human interruption with the presence of technology. Such way, errors would be significantly minimized.
2. Decentralized computing plays a prominent role in renewable energy scheduling.
Decentralized computing involves the allocation of both software and hardware to various points of duty. It is not like centralized computing, where all activities stem from a particular place. This form of computing (decentralized computing) is necessary for renewable energy scheduling because of the nature of locations in renewable energy generation and consumption.
For example, in an energy community, several houses may produce power at a time, and some utilities need power. The allotment of power to different places can be done effectively with decentralized computing technologies like the blockchain. It is effective because control has to happen independently from various locations when forecasting predictions require an adjustment.
3. Smart grids allow for renewable energy forecasting and scheduling.
Smart grids are electrical distribution points that are not like the conventional grid. The difference is that they contain many operation and control systems, advanced metering systems, intelligent circuit breakers and boards, and most importantly, renewable energy sources fit in well. Their operations are more efficient and can be readily evaluated because of the availability of needed information at the click of the finger. It is in such a system that renewable energy forecasting and scheduling can thrive.
Advanced forecasting models can be introduced and used to plan how the plants would run, whether solar photovoltaics or wind turbines. The ease in integration occurs because the smart grid already has smart IoT devices for thermal sensing, smart meters, phasor management networks, and the likes.
4. Grids with renewable energy attain stability easier with forecasting models in place.
Grid stability is of utmost importance for the sake of the life span of grids. Grid operators cannot consistently have variations in input and output in the grid happen repeatedly. With accurate renewable energy forecasting models, proper preparation and scheduling would be done, and there would be less frequent stability problems. Renewable energy forecasting and scheduling cut back most excesses when it comes to grid management.
5. The weather is a significant factor in renewable energy forecasting and scheduling.
Renewable energy forecasts are usually a combination of accurate weather predictions and the availability of plants and systems. The weather is a great factor, as the weather changes cause significant changes in the renewable power generated. For example, the variable speed of the wind is proportional to the amount of power generated by wind turbines. In the same way, the intensity of sun rays and the positioning of clouds play a big role in the fluctuations when it comes to solar power.
What makes renewable energy forecasting and scheduling interesting is that it studies the highly influencing factors of effective power generation. This kind of study is immediately applied, rather than just being carried out for nothing. It turns out that analyzing the weather, as Meteomatics does, has a vital role in the forecasting done by Hive Power’s Forecaster.
Renewable Energy Forecasting and Scheduling Solution – Hive Power
Hive Power’s Forecaster is one of our Flexibility Operator’s modules that performs short-term forecasting in a very accurate manner. It simply considers various factors involved in renewable energy-based power generation and uses them in forecasting. Its machine learning models make predictions on the amount of energy that would be used and generated in the future, based on previous data. This data is real-time data which is very helpful because it is used as soon as it is delivered.
Renewable energy forecasting and scheduling are essential for the effectiveness of renewable energy systems. With more observations in the needs of a renewable energy system, new technologies keep springing up, and it fosters development. Therefore, it is crucial to embrace these technologies as they come, especially when they are practical and efficient like this (in renewable energy forecasting and scheduling).
The Netherlands (also known as Holland in some languages, English inclusive) is known for its windmills and tulips. Its capital, Amsterdam, is a place to reckon. However, other things that make the Netherlands popular are heavily reliant on energy. As the second-largest exporter of food and beer, there are many energy-consuming set-ups. Also, there is the need to keep factories and homes up and running.
The energy sector in the Netherlands bases majorly on natural gas and oil. As of 2018, the contributions to energy generation were: 42% from natural gas, 37% from petrol, 11% from coal, 5% from biomass, and the remaining 5% shared among solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal and nuclear sources. The reliability of these sources over time seems to make them seem supposedly sustainable. However, global warming, earthquakes while producing natural gas, and climate change are still of great concern.
How far the Netherlands have come in Renewable Energy
One limiting factor to the progress in adopting renewable energy in the Netherlands is the topography. The Netherlands in its entirety is not below sea level, but a significant part of it is. This geographical situation is not welcoming to the use of hydropower.
Also, many government subsidies to invest in renewable energy existing in other countries like Denmark and Germany are not in the Netherlands. The start-up cost for renewable energy projects is high, so not many Dutch people are encouraged to go into it.
However, the status of renewable energy generation and usage in the Netherlands has recorded some progress. The amount of energy produced from renewable energy sources in the Netherlands increased from 6.6% in 2017 to 7.38% in 2018 and 8.6% in 2019. Nevertheless, the targets are still far off.
Policies Affecting the Growth of RE in the Netherlands
The law in the Netherlands has expressed concern over the light level of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. The Climate Act aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands by 49% by 2030 and 95% by 2050. For this to be met, some projects are ongoing, majorly for offshore wind turbine applications. Also, the Dutch government policy on renewable energy includes a plan to close the only nuclear power plant in the Netherlands by 2024.
Lately, countries in Europe have started to work towards meeting the goals for renewable energy development. The Renewable Energy Directive in the European Union was formerly to the end that by 2020, the final energy consumption of countries in the EU would be up to 20% renewable. However, can we confidently say the same motivation pushes the Netherlands?
The target by the European Union in 2018 was to have up to 32% of total energy from renewable sources in all its member state countries by 2030. Unfortunately, the Netherlands has not attained its share. In 2017, the Netherlands produced 6.6% of its total energy from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind turbines. The target at that time was 14%, so the Netherlands failed to meet it.
Ongoing Renewable Energy Projects in the Netherlands
Even though the Netherlands is not on track for its renewable energy goals, it has started making plans to eliminate natural gas production and consumption. These plans favour the development of renewable energy. The most popular projects in the Netherlands are the offshore wind turbine projects, before solar projects. We will discuss some examples below.
- The first large-scale wind farm in the Netherlands is being revamped. Egmond aan Zee offshore wind farm is the wind farm in question. Commissioned 15 years ago (2006), it started with only a capacity of 108 MW as a demonstration project and was the first large-scale wind farm project in the Netherlands. BlackRock Real Assets closed a 4.8 billion dollars investment fund for renewable power early this year, and some of it has sponsored other projects. A part of the fund, as well, would be used to refurbish this wind farm of NoordzeeWind (owned by Shell). Once completed, it has the potential to boost the use of renewable power in the Netherlands.
- Borssele 1 and 2 is Ørsted’s first offshore wind farm in the Netherlands and is located on the Dutch North Sea. It has a capacity of 752 MW and is, therefore, the largest wind farm in the Netherlands. A highlight of this project is that its completion was in 2020, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the CEO of Ørsted, it is an achievement. This project has enough power for 1 million Dutch homes.
- The collaboration between Kronos Solar Projects and Greencells in the Netherlands is currently beginning to expand. The partnership has started a new 14 MW solar project at Voorst in the second quarter of this year (2021). Greencells has been actively working in the Netherlands since 2018. The company has completed up to 332 MW projects individually and with other collaborators. Kronos Solar Projects are also renowned for its investments in solar projects up to 290 MW in more than one country.
Experts’ Projections on RE in the Netherlands
The experts have it that the total share of renewable energy that was 8.7% in 2019 would eventually increase to 25% in 2030. In the same way, experts expect that the 18% share of renewable electricity in 2019 would have increased to 75% by 2030. However, the expectation for the renewable share of energy used for heating should move only from 7% in 2019 to 13% in 2030.
Also, the growth in the renewable energy market has to take a good turn. This is because the prices of renewable energy are steadily decreasing. This decrease is likely to keep the renewable energy market sustained even without the government’s input. For example, biomass used to take up to 60.7% of the renewable energy usage in the Netherlands. However, recent investments and projects by Vattenfall, Siemens, and the likes in wind energy projects should turn things around.
As the Netherlands has shown an increasing dependence on natural gas, it shows that the country needs more and more energy sources. The Netherlands used to be a reliable exporter of natural gas decades ago but has become an importer. As developments begin to increase, the pollution of the atmosphere with emissions is also increasing. Therefore, the Climate Agreement Policies need to be looked into further.
The trend of energy usage from various energy sources in Spain tells that a revolution is growing. Merely looking at how development has moved in Spain, we see clearly that the increased consumption of energy has called for increased power generation over the years. In 2011, only 249.7TWh of 276.8TWh of the energy produced in Spain was consumed, and it was still a large amount.
Spain is currently populated by 47.1 million people, and each citizen relies on energy for their activities. Spain is the sixth-largest energy consumer in Europe and mostly has to import fuel. This is a result of the lack of abundant petroleum resources.
Generally, fossil fuel, wind, solar, nuclear, and hydroelectric energy sources are actively utilized in Spain. However, Spain is one of the countries that has started working actively to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Right from the early 2000s, Spain has been making efforts to focus more on renewable energy. While this is major because of the adverse effects of fossil fuels on the environment, it has also brought advancements in energy management and proper utilization.
The Growth of Renewable Energy in Spain.
To date, Spain keeps making progress in the production and use of renewable energy. For a country that used to import a lot of coal and release subsidies for the cause, the new changes have a great impact on the economy. Some highlights in the trend of events relating to renewable energy in Spain are listed below.
- The global recession in 2008 significantly reduced the power generation rate in Spain by 11%, yet the market keeps bouncing back.
- Significant progress has been made in the generation of power from renewable energy. On barely comparing 2016 and last year, we see the difference is clear. Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, renewable energy generation in 2020 was 43.6% of gross electricity generation, which is an improvement from the 39% produced in 2016. In the newsletter by the Spanish grid operator – Red Electrica de Espana – it was recorded that this was the highest recorded so far.
- Wind energy has become a major part of the renewable energy sector, but solar photovoltaics are still coming up, despite the vastness of solar resources. Last year (2020), the reduction in overall power demand did not stop renewable energy sources from flourishing.
The Challenges Facing Renewable Energy Policies in Spain
Spain had set a target in 2014 to be met for renewable energy by 2020: 42.6% of total electricity generated. Moreover, in 2018, the goal has been increased to 70% by 2030. Consequently, the renewable energy regulations in Spain also say that emissions must be reduced by 20%.
Even with all of these bright sides, a major challenge to the effective use and implementation of renewable energy in Spain is the lack of resources, successive change in governments, and so much reliance on government as regards renewable energy. As governments change, policies have changed.
Despite the situation, the European Union approved a support scheme earlier this year to support energy-intensive companies in Spain. This scheme, which is set to run till December 2022, is a great investment. Their government would carry out more projects, and renewable energy will be of great benefit to the energy status of Spain. This was done under EU state aid, and it is truly of great help.
Ongoing Renewable Energy Projects and Initiatives in Spain.
These projects reflect a deep commitment to development and sustainability. Solar and wind power generation have the highest percentage of renewable energy in Spain. Some examples of projects and initiatives on each (solar and wind power) are highlighted below.
1. Total Solar Project in Spain
Total Energies is planning to thrive on the promising solar market in Spain. Total is currently planning to enter the solar market via partnerships. Two partners have agreed on the two gigawatts (2GW) solar projects – Powertis and Solarbay Renewable Energy. This project would make a great impact on the renewable energy sector of Spain.
The partnership between Total Solar International and Powertis is a 65%-35% one that would need Powertis to bring a pipeline of 800MW. This project started last year. Also, Total is obtaining all 1.2GW portfolio of projects by Solarbay. The projects are all to end by the latest 2023.
2. Wind Power Generation by Various Companies – Enel Green Power’s Wind Farm
Certain suppliers of wind energy in Spain (Gamesa Eólica, Alstom Wind, Acciona Energy, Iberdrolla, MTorres, and the rest) are still going strong in their operations. As of 2015, Spain became the fifth biggest wind power producer in the world. Producing up to 48,118 GWh of power from wind turbines that year, which formed 19% of the total power generated.
Enel Green Power is currently building a wind farm in Spain with an investment of €181 million ($220 million). This project would feature 43 wind turbines and can generate up to 471GWh of clean energy. The project aims to meet one of the major goals of renewable energy development – reducing carbon emissions. Consequently, when this project comes fully up by next year as we expect, it will offset up to 385,505 tonnes of carbon emissions. This is a big one for the progress of renewable energy in Spain.
For a study period of 2020-2026, experts have it that the CAGR of the renewable energy market in Spain would be more than 6%. This is a result of encouraging government policies and the need to reduce climate-damaging emissions.
Solar power installations are projected to be up to 30GW by 2030. This would be significant in moving renewable energy in Spain forward. Also, the market of offshore wind power has remained untapped and would give opportunities in the next ten years.
Optimistically, another projection for Spain is the tendency to outdo the predictions for renewable energy additions. Argus’ monitoring of proposed wind projects envisions a higher level of wind power generation in a few years.
Spain has come a long way and can fight through its challenges for the sake of improving renewable energy. From the generation of power to utilization, the energy stakeholders in Spain need to maximize available resources and smart grid technologies to meet up with the bright future catching up with the rest of the world.
In Europe, some countries stand out for renewable energy conversation, and Italy is one of the top players. For 2018 and 2020, respectively, Italy beat its renewable energy targets. The total energy produced by hydroelectric, solar, wind, bioenergy and geothermal power in Italy for 2018 reached 17.8% of final gross consumption, going past the 17% target set for 2020.
There was a 7.7% of consumption in the transport sector for individual sectors, 33.9% in electricity production and 19.2% in heat consumption from renewable energy sources within Italy in 2018. Overall, with that amount of electricity consumption, Italy greatly exceeded the National Action Plan’s target on renewable energy sources, also known as the PAN, for the years 2018 (24.6%) and 2020 (26.4%).
Italy is ranked among the top ten in Europe as part of the list of countries leading electricity production from renewable energy sources. The national impact on the European Union’s total is about 10.7%. The ambitious target for 2030 set by Italy’s National Energy and Climate Plan accounts for 30% consumption with renewable energy sources. So this makes it necessary for Italy to promote and install its renewable energy plans in the future.
Italy’s Renewable Energy Journey, How Far They’ve Come.
The fastest-growing source of renewable energy in Italy is photovoltaic solar energy (PV). Data from 2018, the last full year of available data, shows that photovoltaic systems and installations produced over 22 TWh of energy.
Material from the IEA’s papers on the Global PV Markets also details the impact PV has on the Italian energy sector; accordingly, photovoltaic energy produced by Italy in 2020 was 7.5% of total electricity generation.
With its $6million renewable energy incentives program and a 20.8GW total PV installed capacity as of 2019, more power plants are encouraged to enrol for the specifically packaged incentives. Italy’s strategy for 2021 – 2030 is spelt out in its Integrated National Plan for Energy and Climate (PNIEC). It addresses decarbonisation, energy efficiency, self-consumption and distributed generation, energy security and consumption electrification. This strategy aims to bring the part of renewable energy of the final gross consumption rate to 30% by 2030.
Policies Promoting The Growth Of Renewable Energy In Italy
After beating its own 17% set target for renewables shares six years ahead of schedule, Italy has set about creating policies and guidelines to streamline the renewable energy sector for maximum profit all around. It is working under the EU Energy Roadmap 2050 of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent from 1990 levels using its National Energy Strategy 10-year road map.
The National Energy Strategy seeks to increase competitiveness, sustainability and security in the Italian national energy sector through schemes and incentives specifically tailored to the Italian market. The schemes or policies responsible for renewable energy – electricity in Italy are controlled by Gestore dei Servizi Energetic (GSE – the Manager of Electricity Services).
Some of the policies are:
- Electricity generated from renewable energy sources is promoted through VAT- and real estate tax deductions.
- Electricity generated from renewable energy sources fed into the grid can be sold on the free market or to the GSE on a guaranteed minimum price colloquially termed “ritiro dedicato.”
- Net-metering, also known as “scambio sul posto”, provides a convenient compensation to prosumers for the electricity fed into the grid.
- Priority access must be given to renewable energy plants by grid operators.
- Priority dispatch of electricity from renewable sources is also an obligation.
- Grid operators can expand the grid if necessary and requested by plant operators.
As for renewable energy in the heating sector, there are a few policies available as well:
- District heating and cooling networks are managed at local levels
- Development of the installations needed for renewable energy sources in heating (RES-H) is supported by price-based mechanisms
- There is a tax regulation mechanism in place to promote using renewable energy sources for heating
Other general policies that concern renewable energy sources in Italy include:
- Certificates of installed energy plants are obligatory
- All new or refurbished buildings must integrate RES, with an extra 10% to the obligation level for public buildings
Ongoing Renewable Energy Projects In Italy.
There are many completed renewable energy projects within Italy, while others are still in the planning stages. However, available data for 2020 is all but non-existent because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but with 2021 giving us a new lease on life, some projects should soon begin to see daylight, such as that of Eni.
One of Europe’s largest oil company that has decided to diversify into renewables has received authorisation for a few renewable energy projects in Italy. The State Hydrocarbons Authority, also known as Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi or ENI for short, is building a 4.5 MW photovoltaic plant in Trecate to power their production site.
A subsidiary of ENI, called ENI New Energy, acquired three wind projects with a total capacity of 35 MW in the Puglia region of Italy. These will be the first wind projects undertaken by ENI in Italy, and it’s expected to produce approximately 81 GWh annually, avoiding around 33,400 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. Construction is to begin in the third quarter of 2021.
When it comes to electricity generation, the National Plan for Energy and Climate (PNIEC) expects power generated by renewables to increase by 65% by 2030 compared to its current total.
Renewables are also scheduled to cover more than 55% of national electricity consumption, estimated at 337 TWh in 2030.
The plan is to concentrate on two renewables, wind energy and photovoltaic energy, with both renewables reaching more than twice the amount of installed power in 2030 than what is currently attainable. This means the increase in total installed power from renewables would go up to 75%.
Italy is not taking any pauses in its race to become the only contender for renewable energy innovations in Europe. It has beat its set targets twice in a row and continues to set higher standards for its sustainability. Hive Power is optimistic about the tremendous progress that can be made in Italy’s renewable energy journey with the inclusion of AI-powered smart grid technologies to promote more innovative solutions.
As the need for new phases in the power sector begins to unravel, no one can underplay the importance of fitting in. For a long while, grids have transmitted power, usually from non-renewable energy sources such as coal, oil, and natural gas. The production of this power is according to a scheduled and centralized system, so you would expect that it would achieve grid stability easily most of the time.
Unlike conventional grids that have synchronous generators to support their stability, grids with renewable energy sources require a lot more to attain stability in case of interruptions.
Understanding Grid Stability
It’s simple; there needs to be a balance in production and consumption within an electrical grid. For there to be stability, the energy generated must be equal to the energy consumed. So, “unreliable” energy sources don’t fare well with conventional grids.
For a power grid, to remain stable, it needs to respond to volatility in voltage and frequency disturbances. For example, suppose more power is generated than consumed or more energy consumed from the grid than generated. In that case, complete adjustments are necessary within an acceptable timeframe to balance the frequency disturbances and power outages. Equilibrium is what is most important.
Let’s Bring Renewable Energy Into The Picture.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) report, the renewable energy sector’s growth is set to skyrocket by a whopping 50% between 2019 and 2024. With solar photovoltaic energy leading the way, closely followed by wind and hydropower projects – which are gaining traction with speedy rollouts, the fastest observed in four years. This growth is happening because of the reduced costs of renewable energy technologies, global set targets and decarbonisation policies, and the increasingly high electricity demand.
In the production of power with solar energy, the fluctuations in the supply and demand of energy for a particular place can cause instability in the grids. These fluctuations occur because the sunlight intensity in an environment with homes using solar panels, for example, varies from time to time. Thus, while the transition to sustainable energy is still on, homes, offices, or general end users would still have times when there is low power generation from renewable energy sources. Also, there could be wastage when supply is abundant if grid operators do not apply adequate measures.
The wind turbines used to produce renewable energy are also doing a great job. Still, the fluctuations in power production pose a threat to the stability of the grids. These fluctuations come from the nature of wind speed in these applications.
Relying on renewable energy sources brings its share of challenges that need definitive solutions. These solutions can be storage options, handling fluctuations and specifications for particular RE sources; (for example, solar power solutions would differ, if not slightly, from solutions for thermal energy sources or hydropower, wind farms, and the rest).
What Are The Grid Stability Problems With Renewable Energy Sources?
The three major challenges faced by conventional grids when it comes to the adoption of renewable energy sources are:
1. Frequency and voltage anomalies
The stochastic nature of wind and solar energy production makes the frequency and voltage produced unreliable to an extent. Power inverters are supposed to adjust system fluctuations in solar power generation. However, they have proved to be weak in effectively carrying this out. In addition, the time of the day and the weather conditions continuously affect the production of power. These conditions seriously affect the operation of the grids, bringing them close to their limits.
2. Overloading of existing transmission lines
Due to increased loads during peak hours, the existing transmission lines face a challenge of capacities matching the inflow and outflow of power. A surge can occur when producers generate too much power without warning, and the entire system would shut down. A transmission line has its specified capacity, and if this limit gets passed, thermal loads will build up, leading to damage.
3. Demand and supply mismatch
As much as many homes, offices, and buildings need the power to run their operations, it cannot be at a time. The production of renewable energy can be very high at some points in time. But, also, it can be low under other conditions. Therefore, the power generated when it is needed may not be sufficient or may not match the demand.
How They Can Be Solved.
The issues faced by the grids with renewable energy sources are not unsurmountable. As challenges arise, new technologies that can effectively tackle these challenges start to present a solution. Distribution System Operators can regain grid stability by applying techniques and technology to ensure the effective adaptation of renewable energy in the power sector.
1. Use of energy storage technologies
Energy storage is a great way to tackle the grid stability issues with renewable energy. It does not stop at immobile lithium-ion batteries, but mobile batteries too. The use of ‘moving’ batteries involves energy storage along transmission lines and even in electric vehicles. Virtual transmission is one of the technologies that come into play concerning specially configured battery systems. They come to the rescue of congested transmission lines and help grids retain stability.
2. Implementation of Smart grids
Smart grids have many features working together intelligently. The most advantageous features that affect grid stability include the control and communication systems. In addition, the sensors can detect and evaluate imbalances in power distribution. This way, the equipment’s health is closely monitored. Thus, you can ensure grid stability with smart grids, and Hive Power provides the technologies needed for this implementation.
Grid managers always have to be on top of this growing problem of increased injections of renewables to the grid networks and tally these increases with their corresponding costs.
Also, operators can find solutions for grid stability issues and renewables in:
- Installing a huge number of reactive power compensation plants and building HVDC transmission lines from the generation centres to the load centres
- The use of conventional load flow controllers (however, these proved to be too slow when compared to the rate at which renewable energy use is growing)
- A dynamic load flow management system (which seems to be the best option) found in a unified power flow controller that can be fast-reacting. This solution should keep power lines within the n – 1 criterion balanced by managing both series and parallel compensation, which would keep the electricity on and flowing at optimum.
Hive Power – Smart Grid Stability Solution.
Our solution modules address the problems related to grid stability with AI-driven technologies put in place. For example, the Flexibility Orchestrator modules for grid operators provide grid analytics, manage flexibility, and optimize the distribution of power on their grids.
Some of the functions include:
- forecasting of energy data for power production and loads – this predicts how the production would go, based on previous operations, and the number of loads as well can be forecasted
- provision of analytics for the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) – Smart meters can measure the energy consumed per time, check power factors and give relevant data to the consumers and producers
- use of monitoring tools and overall visualization – generalized views give a bigger picture and allow for easy monitoring and detecting of faults or anomalies
- optimal grid management by the use of analytics – the entire grid processes and operations can be systematically organized when analytics interpret and communicate all data on the grid meaningfully
- preventive analysis of future grid violations – utilizing the data and analytics available on the grid, preventive measures can be derived and put in place to avoid breaches.
Fossil fuels have served their purpose wholly since their discovery, providing energy that has surpassed initial expectations. Still, over the years, with more innovations springing up around the world due to technological development, it has become apparent that the source of our all-important energy and its continued use is detrimental to the environment we so desperately need for continued existence. So we have turned to renewable energy.
This form of energy has a less negative environmental impact, is more sustainable, allows for the creation of a much-needed increase in employment. RE sources also help sovereign nations utilise their natural environment and resources to generate the power they need and acquire a self-sustaining income.
This post is a case study of one of these sovereign nations at the forefront of renewable energy innovations; Switzerland.
Interesting Facts About Energy in Switzerland
Although Switzerland has seen a significant surge in renewable energies such as ambient heat, biomass, wind power and solar power since 2005, their main energy sources hinge on oil, natural gas, nuclear power and hydropower.
- 50.6% of Switzerland’s energy comes from petroleum and fuel sources, making them the main sources, electricity follows with a bit above half of that percentage with 25%, then gas with 13.5% and finally wood at 4.4%
- Hydropower plants are the primary sources of electricity, nuclear power generates about 33.5%, and thermal power plants (that do not use renewable energy) generate 2.3%
- Many Swiss citizens have strong opposition to nuclear power, and they have derailed several nuclear power plant projects. An example is the case of Canton of Aargau (Kaiseraugst) when in 1975, public protests led to the abandonment of a nuclear power plant project.
- Presently, Switzerland has set goals for an energy transition. In the Energy Strategy 2050, one of its most ambitious aims is to phase-out nuclear power use.
- 59.9% of Switzerland’s total domestic electricity production comes from its 638 hydroelectric power plants.
- The largest dam in Switzerland is The 285-metre-high Grande-Dixence dam (canton of Valais) is the third-highest gravity dam in the world and the largest dam in Switzerland.
- As of 2015, the per capita electricity consumption in Switzerland was 7,033 kWh putting it higher than the 2014 rate for France, which stood at 6,233 kWh, Germany at 6,225 kWh and the Netherlands at 6,108 kWh. However, it maintained a lower rate than Norway, which stayed at 21,091 kWh, Finland at 14,477 kWh, Sweden at 12,597 kWh, Belgium at 7,225kWh and Austria at 7,081 kWh.
(Source: Discover Switzerland)
Growth Of Switzerland’s Renewable Energy Policies
The Energy Strategy 2050 emphasises ‘increased energy savings (energy efficiency), the expansion of hydropower and new renewable energies, and, if necessary, on fossil-fuel-based electricity production.’
The system Kostendeckende Einspeisevergütung (KEV), which is the feed-in tariff (FIT) and its predecessor, the Mehrkostenfinanzierung (MKF), as well as specified targets, are the key instigators for market demand in renewable energy. Even though the budget made available has been rather limited compared to market demand.
The institutional framework in Switzerland, which supports renewable energy, has developed to grow continually without major hitches. With support from the SwissEnergy programme, this process has brought together myriad stakeholders, promoted innovative ideas, providing pertinent information, pushed market deployments and supported collaboration across different sectors.
As soon as KEV was introduced, an objective for sharing renewable energy within the national energy mix by 2030 was also introduced, providing a concrete signal for renewable energy sector investors. Within the Swiss Energy Act was included the target of an annual additional renewable electricity generation of 5400 gigawatt-hours (GWh) by 2030, of which 2000 GWh are to come via hydropower. These long-term targets build upon an important element in the overall framework for RES.
The government implemented a set of measures due to The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Action Plans of 2008 to improve renewable energy technologies’ market conditions. These measures included:
- Financial support for the replacement of existing heating systems with renewable energy, for example, heat pumps and biomass through global budgets distributed to the cantons dedicated to supporting measures
- Revision of the building standard for new buildings
Ongoing Renewable Energy Projects in Switzerland and Expert Projections
The world’s first high-altitude floating solar power plant is currently operating in the Swiss Alps. According to experts in the field, this technology could become a major part of the photovoltaic industry worldwide. Photovoltaic energy is produced by turning sunlight into electricity, and in 2013 Guillaume Fuchs got the idea to spearhead this high-altitude floating solar power plant in an alpine environment.
According to SwissInfo.ch, “The solar plant at Lac des Toules consists of 1,400 panels, laid on 36 floating structures made of aluminium and polyethene plastic anchored to the bottom of the lake. Current production exceeds 800,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, which is the equivalent of consumption for about 220 households”. Constructing a photovoltaic power plant in a human-made lake at very high altitudes means that the weather conditions are harsher and more intense with a thinner atmosphere and extreme UV rays. More electricity is generated thanks to the two-sided panels that capture the sun rays above and the reflected sun rays from the water’s surface.
Experts believe that floating photovoltaic stations such as this one are the future of solar energy because there is less need for unwarranted land use. There will also be a reduction in the competition between agriculturists, construction companies and the renewable energy sector regarding land. The water placement also leads to increased yield capabilities because it cools the panels as they sit effortlessly, extending their lifespan altogether.
Per year, nuclear power plants in Switzerland produce about 25 TWh of electricity. For the government to replace that amount of power, approximately 25,000 football fields would need to be covered with photovoltaic panels to cater to consumer needs, hence the need for more innovation.
We, at Hive Power, believe that the use of innovations plays a huge role in driving the renewable energy sector and technologies. Our Smart Grid Analytics solution offers industry participants the capacity to manage electric energy and electric grids, using data-driven AI-powered solutions, efficiently.
As the use of fossil fuels increasingly becomes a thing of concern, renewable energy, on the other hand, is picking up steam as a more sustainable and widely accepted alternative for energy production and consumption. Renewable energy technologies (RES) are getting ever more advanced with big tech companies such as Tesla and countries worldwide trying to outdo themselves and demonstrate the innovative potential of these new technologies from replenishable sources.
The objectives of these projects primarily are to slowly phase out pollutant fossil fuels, meet expected renewable energy targets, and optimize the new energy exportation landscape.
Here is a list of five projects from around the world to look out for in 2021:
The TuNur project is a power plant with a 2,250MW solar CSP located in the Sahara Desert. It also has a 2 GW HVDC submarine cable that runs from Tunisia to Italy. The plan is to generate around 9,400GWh of total renewable energy dispersed every year to other European countries such as Germany and Switzerland.
The Tunisian government has found that they have an abundance of solar and wind renewable energy sources that can be utilised to yield the set target of 30% renewable energy use by 2030. This has allowed them to enter into partnerships to harness this opportunity and promote a series of projects in all concerned technologies and varying capacities. One of these is the one with Nur Energie, named TuNur which is looking to become the leading renewable energy developer in the region.
TuNur is concerned with filling the renewable energy gap in Europe and consolidating the immense development of solar and wind energy in Tunisia and North Africa.
This project is overseen by ConnectGen developing solar projects in Texas, specifically southwestern Leon County. Their large-scale solar project expects to generate energy enough to power more than 50,000 homes.
ConnectGen chose Leon County for solar technologies development due to its proximity to an already existing transmission system, which at the start of 2020 had produced enough power to supply 498.637 homes in Texas. It is expected that there will be a 13,310 MW added capacity introduced to the Texas renewable energy sector over the next five years.
Construction of the Pecan Prairie solar project area will begin in 2021 with operations to begin in 2022. This project’s advantages include tax revenue generation for the Lone Star state, creation of local jobs, and community support. ConnectGen focuses on developing best-in-class wind, solar, and energy storage projects in America to increase the supply of low-cost clean energy domestically produced.
This project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is meant to be developed in seven phases beginning with Inga 3, which has 2 phases. The hydropower use of the Inga river in the DRC is very complex and already has two facilities, Inga 1 and Inga 2, built in 1972 and 1982 respectively which currently provide a substantial amount of grid electricity. This 5-dam complex is expected to generate 42GW of power, holding 52 turbines each, which would make it the world’s largest hydroelectric dam at completion.
Congo cannot utilise all of the power that this project will generate, so, they will export most of it to other African countries such as South Africa via a power line running through Zambia and Namibia. The plans for this project started as far back as the ’50s when some European countries expressed interest, such as France, Belgium and China, not eliminating a few African countries.
Inga 3 will approximately cost $14 billion with Angola committed to buying 5000MW once operational. However, this project is overshadowed by a few concerns surrounding environmental impact as per loss of biodiversity, and social impact in the form of displaced communities.
Hornsea 2 has been in development since 2015 by the Danish company Ørsted intended to be part of the larger Hornsea zone a few kilometres of the coast of East Riding, Yorkshire. The power of the wind is the core energy source for this project. Ørsted is the leading company in offshore wind utilisation. It has taken up the responsibility of building the world’s largest wind farm off the UK’s coast generating clean energy for UK homes.
Hornsea 2 will have 165 turbines with a capacity of 1.4GW providing power to well over 1.3 million homes. In 2019 onshore cable construction was started with the wind farm and HVAC substation. Turbine installation will commence in 2021 after which startup should commence. The wind farm is expected to connect to the grid at the North Killingholme National Grid transmission station in North Lincolnshire.
Saint Brieuc has been projected to have a total installed capacity of 496 MW, which should generate clean energy for approximately 835,000 people, and it is located 16 kilometres off the coast of France with 62 SG 8.0-167 DD turbines.
Brittany, where Saint Brieuc bay is situated, is prone to immense winds and high tides. Hence, it makes sense that it would be one of the first large-scale offshore wind farms to receive all the necessary documentation and permits from the French government for its creation and operation. Offshore operations are expected to start in 2021 with Dutch marine contractor Van Oord installing the substation and pin piles. The total investment in this project is said to be 2.4 billion euros.
Our list is in no way exhaustive because renewable energy has slowly grown from being a niche only sector to a completely pivotal market creating high demands that must be met. Projects are springing up across the globe in the private and public sectors, from Europe to Africa to Australia to Asia and back. Clean energy seems as though it should now be crowned the ‘Pure Gold’ of our time taking over from the much-acclaimed ‘Black Gold’.
Electricity is not only created when it’s needed but also stored on a large scale for easier distribution in response to its demands and supply, which is what necessitates grid energy storage. And with the advancement of renewable energy production around the world, the future of grid energy storage is slowly shifting from complete dependency on fossil fuels to throwing renewable energy sources (RES) into the mix, and ultimately only utilising RES in the production and distribution of energy for a cleaner environment.
According to Science Direct, “Energy storage is defined as the conversion of electrical energy from a power network into a form in which it can be stored until converted back to electrical energy”.
In essence, methods of energy storage work the same as the battery of your mobile phone. If you have to constantly keep your phone plugged in to use it, it will tend to put some restraints on its most basic uses, like being an actual “mobile phone” instead of becoming a “dormant phone”. That wasn’t the idea at first, was it?
Creating a battery pack that can be recharged at your convenience with the ability to hold the “electrical energy” needed to keep your mobile phone running while you go about your daily activities was a better answer to the dormant phone debacle, and now this idea is being innovatively recreated on a larger scale. Think, massive energy storage plants like silo farms, except for energy.
Importance of Grid Energy Storage
Yale Environment says that “experts believe widespread energy storage is key to expanding the reach of renewables and speeding the transition to a carbon-free power grid”. Over time batteries have been observed to be capable of storing and discharging energy exceeding periods that consistently become longer, making power capacity expand exponentially.
There is always a need to store excess energy for increased demand, and with renewable energy sources, the need is mostly tied to the uncontrollable variations in weather patterns.
For example, you can get solar energy during the day when the sun is out, but what happens at night when electrical energy is needed?
Or, in the situation where we can get the bulk of hydroelectric power from large water sources, but these sources are disturbed especially in rainy seasons?
The answer will turn out to be that energy that has already been produced will have to be pooled from elsewhere. Like mobile phone batteries just lying in wait for when needed, a wider variety of grid energy storage options are essential, so that there will be less dependency on the fluctuations or variations in weather or energy sources.
What are the Grid Energy Storage Options?
The electrical grids need a stable system that provides a balance between supply and distribution, many methods have been applied since the discovery of electricity to keep up with these demands so here are a few energy storage options that can be integrated into the grid systems that are worthy of note:
1. Tesla Powerwall/Powerpacks
These are lithium-ion batteries for home and grid use. According to Tesla “Powerpacks house, the world’s most sophisticated batteries with AC-connected energy storage system and everything needed to connect to a building or utility network. It dramatically simplifies installation, integration and future support, offering system-wide benefits that far outweigh those of standalone batteries.” It focuses on peak shaving, load shifting, emergency backup and demand response. A persuasive example is Hornsdale Power Reserve in Australia, where it was commissioned in 2017.
2. Redox flow batteries
These are a special kind of electrochemical battery cells that allow chemical energy provided by to chemical components that are dissolved in liquids that are pushed through the system on separate sides of a membrane to create stored energy. Essentially chemical energy is turned into electrical energy through reversible oxidation and reduction.
3. Flywheel energy storage
These can be found on wind farms such as that owned by the KEA electric cooperative in Alaska. This ETS harnesses the power of the wind to create and store energy. It works by accelerating a flywheel rotor to immense speeds of about 20,000 to 50,000 RPMs and keeping the energy in the system as rotational energy that can be extracted when needed.
4. Thermal energy storage
These are mainly used for heating and cooling applications. The idea behind this EST is to heat or cool a storage medium so that the energy stored within can be utilised when needed. The most popular of which is sensible heat storage which concentrates on storing thermal heat by raising the temperature of a solid or liquid, examples are gravel, ground or soil, pebbles and bricks. The Crescent Dunes solar energy project in Nevada is an example of this ETS that can store up to 1.1 GWh of energy which is equal to 10 hours of full power energy setting it apart from most of its predecessors.
5. Pumped-storage hydroelectric stations
These follow the process of electrically pumping water from a lower reservoir to an upper one where the hydroelectric station will then contain the water to create and store more energy. They are used during off-peak seasons to store water that can be used to generate energy when needed at peak seasons. An example is the Grand Maison Dam can power up within three minutes to feed up to 1.8GW of electricity into the French national electrical grid during peak demand.
6. Compressed air energy storage
This sees air becoming pressurised and stored underground until it’s needed, similarly to the process of hydroelectric energy conversion and storage. Excess electrical energy is stored as high-pressure air in large tanks or salt caverns and spaces. To revert it to electrical energy, the compressed air is pushed through a turbine. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Bonneville Power Administration have undertaken a project to “evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of developing compressed air energy storage in the unique geologic setting of inland Washington”.
At Hive Power, we strongly believe that the future relies on the cohesive synergy of all these elements, technologies and innovations. Power generation, infrastructure, energy sources, and storage grids need to be designed to feed off each other producing stable and reliable energy sources for day to day use while also helping to reduce fossil fuel emissions. The future of Grid energy storage is smart, renewable and sustainable.