A decentralised electricity system

While TSOs have an important role in developing a European grid that can balance variable renewables, they are often only the second link in the chain to where RES generation and consumption take place. In many locations, the larger share of renewables is integrated into the grid at distribution level requiring significant grid development.

In this context, it is as important to deal with impacts of lower-voltage grid infrastructure on nature as for highest voltage lines. Challenges regarding nature protection that RGI has been dealing with in the past exist in a similar way at the distribution level. This causes concern with nature protectionists and can lead to conflicts, which also nourish wider public opposition against power-lines. For most of the wider public, the distinction between high and low voltage levels is of little importance, meaning that identification and sharing of best practices across all voltage levels are indispensible to develop and sustain a good reputation for the entire sector. 

In addition, the rising importance of decentralised solutions requires thorough consideration of the future need for grids. In times where storage technologies becoming cheaper and cheaper, the move towards decentralisation will be intensified further. We have seen prices of solar and batteries decrease at a spectacular pace, prosumers are on the rise. Especially in this phase, it is essential to understand the future role of grids in supporting the energy transition. The described decentralization trends drive some actors to think that grid connections are no longer necessary.  However, also autarkic small systems come at a price; the price of reduced security of supply, high investment costs and the need for generation overcapacity – again infrastructure which needs to be build, which requires financing, political and public support, space and which hence impacts the local environment. A debate about the opportunities but also risks and costs of more or less decentralised future scenarios is indispensible and needs to provide answers also for non-expert audiences. 


Urszula Papajak
Junior Project Manager

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