Smart grids are an important component of energy system transformation. But are the right incentives being set for their expansion?
This is what a research project at Jacobs University Bremen headed by Prof. Dr. Gert Brunekreeft, Professor of Energy Economics, wants to investigate. The project, entitled is funded by the energy research foundation “Stiftung Energieforschung Baden-Württemberg”.
With the transformation of energy systems, the demands placed on electricity grids and the role of grid operators are changing. The energy generated by wind and solar power plants is not constant, but volatile; it causes increasing bottlenecks in the grids. Even the operators of regional distribution grids are no longer just transporters of electricity, they also regulate its supply and switch off wind turbines, for example, in the event of an oversupply. In the meantime, there is also discussion as to whether they can flexibly switch on new demand or use electricity storage facilities to relieve the grid.
The incentive for the further development of the networks is determined less by the energy markets than by the so-called incentive regulation ordinance, which forms the basis for regulation by Germany’s Federal Network Agency. It concentrates on the expansion of the networks, rather than on making them more flexible. So are the existing regulatory requirements sufficient to meet the new requirements through the digitization and flexibilization of network users? Would it be possible to partly avoid expansion through flexibilization? What could a conceptual further development of regulation look like?
“We want to investigate the incentive problem and identify new solutions,” says Dr. Roland Meyer, project manager of the research project. “The results will be of interest to network operators and market participants as well as to legislators and regulators. The project is part of the working group “Bremen Energy Research” at Jacobs University. The investigation of incentives for the implementation of the energy system transformation in Germany and Europe is one of its main topics.