Our work

FLEXibility of the power system in the NETherlands (FLEXNET)

Netherlands up to 2050 at both the national and regional level. The project consists of three phases: (i) the demand for flexibility (phase 1), (ii) the supply of flexibility (phase 2), and (iii) societal framework to trade off grid reinforcements versus deployment of flexibility (phase 3).

The Netherlands is aiming at a more sustainable, low-carbon energy system. For the power system this implies (i) a larger share of electricity from variable renewable energy (VRE), in particular from sun and wind, (ii) a larger share of electricity in total energy use due to the increasing penetration of demand technologies such as electric vehicles (EVs), heat pumps (HPs), power-to-gas (P2G), etc., and – as a result of these two trends – (iii) a higher need for flexibility and system integration.

More power from sun and wind implies more need for flexibility

In this study we have developed several scenario cases up to 2050 which show the increase in flexibility needed in the electricity system (phase 1). We distinguish between three sources (‘causes’) of the demand for flexibility, i.e. due to (i) the variability of the residual load, (ii) the uncertainty (‘forecast error’) of the residual load, and (iii) the congestion (overloading) of the power grid (where residual load is defined as total power demand minus VRE power supply from sun and wind). The analyses in this study are based on hourly power demand and supply profiles for a ‘normal’ (‘representative’) year, although we also consider some extreme hours and some extreme situation in particular.

Subsequently, in phase 2 of the study, we have explored various options that can be used to provide flexibility such as, for example, storage, demand response or crossborder power trade. Our analysis provides insights in the importance of the different options in the future energy system, given their technical characteristics and economic costs. The analyses in phase 2 are conducted within an EU-wide power trade setting, assuming similar (correlated) weather patterns across EU countries.

Finally, in phase 3 of the study, we have described a societal framework that can be used to make well-informed decisions with regard to the trade-off between grid reinforcement and the deployment of flexibility options.

Three take-aways:

  • The demand for flexibility by the power system increases six-fold up to 2050
  • This demand is met predominantly by (foreign) power trade and (domestic) demand response, to some extent by conventional generation (gas) and VRE curtailment, but hardly or less by electricity storage and demand curtailment
  • The deployment of flexibility is in specific, temporary situations an attractive option to avoid grid reinforcement investment, but in the long run the potential and net benefits of this option are generally limited.

Dr Jos Sijm

  • Energy use Fuels & Markets

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