Future scenarios

Long-term network development planning is one of the primary jobs of a TSO. Via a process of forecasting and modelling they tailor grids to the evolution of demand and generation, whilst securing an affordable supply of energy for the future. Assumptions about the evolution of demand and generation are described via scenarios. These are fundamental to determine the future design of the European electricity grid.

Developing future scenarios, resulting market models and their interplay with grid models, is a complex process. The outcome is highly dependent on assumptions put into the scenarios and the modelling. At the same time, this process is the one tool we have to understand which role an individual grid project or a system of grids play with regards to enabling certain future scenarios.

The challenge

Scenario development and modeling is being done by TSOs and by ENTSO-E who have  privileged access to data which feeds the grid models. Multiple other players (primarily consultancies or research institutes) work with their own models to replicate modeling results or gain insights into the ‘what if’ of other scenarios. Despite the resulting wide range of modeling results, insecurity amongst stakeholders remains high for a variety of reasons:

  1. Transparency about existing scenarios, the underlying assumptions and design of models is perceived as being too low
  2. Extreme scenarios and their grid needs - e.g. what grid is needed in a highly decentralised, automated scenario where DSM and storage play a big role and energy efficiency is given a large role - are not available to the extent requested by some important stakeholder groups
  3. Expertise in the fundamentals of scenario development and modeling is possibly much lower amongst stakeholders than amongst the involved experts, making a real dialogue, where the different sides fully understand each other’s language in itself challenging

As a result, stakeholders who per se support renewables and understand the need for grids to enable renewables feel insecure in defending grid infrastructure needs that appear in national network development plans or the European TYNDP. This includes RGI’s NGO members who are willing to explain infrastructure needs at a local level to a skeptical public, but need to be secure that the energy transition drives these needs.

Our work

RGI is running a set of workshops that look to improve the level of understanding amongst stakeholders with regards to scenario development and modeling and to enable TSOs to learn how their approaches could be adjusted in the light of stakeholders’ concerns. This process shall enable all parties to play an increasingly constructive role in their countries/the European debate about what future grid infrastructure is needed.