Embedded generation is ‘missing picture’ in decarbonisation challenge

Electralink estimates that output rose six per cent over the year to the end of March

The task of integrating volatile renewable generation into the energy system is being made more difficult by a “missing picture” of embedded generation, Electralink has argued.

The data services firm says market participants are lacking a complete view of “what is really going on” because generation embedded within distribution networks is often “invisible” to the system operator, National Grid.

Using information passing through its data transfer service, Electralink has estimated there was a six per cent - or 617GWh - increase in output from embedded generation over the year to the end of March.

The company utilised the output from half hourly export meters connected to its service and publicly available information about some sites to develop output profiles for different types of generation. These profiles were then used to identify embedded generation at sites about which there was no publicly available information.

The firm said the data indicates that much of the increase in output from embedded generation has come from renewable sources such as solar and wind.

Electralink head of network and energy market insights Dan Hopkinson said: “Lack of visibility of embedded generation compounds intermittency issues particularly with the growth of renewables.

“Balancing supply and demand requires National Grid to accurately forecast embedded renewables and given the rapid development of this type of generation, near real-time embedded generation data detailing what is being generated, and where, is very valuable to the marketplace.”

He told Utility Week: “Where we have data sources that can identify and improve forecasting for network planning, then we think they should be used. We obviously would say that because we’ve got a data source but we do think that the use of rich data to support forecasting has got to lead to improvements.”

Hopkinson said creating real-time visibility of embedded generation could require changes to processes, for example, an obligation for generators to disclose to distribution networks the type and capacity of generation on site when an export meter is installed. 

University of Exeter energy policy professor Catherine Mitchell has similarly called for greater transparency over distributed energy, telling Utility Week that it is essential to the transormation of the energy system. 

Author: Tom Grimwood,
Channel: Operations & Assets , Markets & Trading , Policy & Regulation

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