The grid

Enormous renewable generation capacity and electricity’s increasing share in energy use – from 19% now to 40% in 2050 – will have significant implications for transmission and distribution systems. Challenges will include expanding, reinforcing and upgrading the grid to maintain high reliability, and swiftly determining where reinforcement is most needed to keep up with the rapid deployment of distributed generation. 

To cope efficiently with much greater variations in power flows, including periods of reverse flow in distribution systems, electricity system operators will need to both upgrade the network and deploy non-wire alternatives. Using storage to handle peak power usage may delay or avoid an upgrade, for example. 

Transmission system operators with high amounts of variable renewable generation will have some of the highest capex investment programmes to date. New grid structures with higher degrees of interconnection to other network control areas will be established, leading to so called overlay grids. 

Digitalization will have a significant impact on power grids, from smart metering and associated technologies to the observability and controllability of lower-voltage grid levels and intelligent (digital) substations. There will be a heightened need for new security functions to manage distribution-connected generation, storage and DSR.