Services & Solutions

Power to the People

Bram Alkema Aug 11, 2020

New patterns of power consumption and generation are reshaping the way electricity distribution networks are used. What does this mean for DSOs?

Covid-19 continues to weigh heavily on electricity demand with consumption down around 10% on pre-crisis levels. The outlook for the next 12 months remains uncertain. 

Yet it’s a different picture looking further into the future. Demand for electricity is expected to rise by more than 60% over the next 20 years as transport and heating switch from fossil fuels to electricity. Meanwhile, distributed generation will continue to grow.

These trends were already gaining momentum before Covid struck, but they are now likely to be supercharged by government stimulus spending. 

What impact will extra demand and decentralised generation have on distribution grids – and what tools can DSOs use to enable this transition cost effectively?

The new load landscape

Distribution networks are the focal point for some of the biggest changes taking place in the energy system.

Transport: electric vehicle (EV) numbers are rising. Government stimulus measures will add to the momentum, including the European Commission’s pledge to support the roll out of a million charging points. Deloitte forecasts that EVs will account for nearly a third (32%) of the total market share for new car sales by 2030 Among the priorities for DSOs is finding ways to enable vehicle charging by making smarter use of existing network capacity. 

Heating and cooling: ground and air source heat pumps are increasingly popular, with nearly 20 million households acquiring heat pumps in 2019. Growth in the European market is strong, with pump sales rising by an average of 12% a year between 2015 and 2018. The ability to model clustering, transformer capacity and power quality impacts will become critical as heat pumps become more widely adopted. 

Distributed generation: this encompasses everything from utility-scale wind and solar with outputs measured in megawatts, to rooftop installations of just a few kilowatts. DSOs need ways to enable distributed renewables with minimal curtailment, while simultaneously avoiding the need for expensive grid reinforcement.

Ageing assets add to the complexity. The ageing process is accelerated by additional loads, so DSOs need to be able to calculate where and when investment will be needed. On top of this, they need to provide stakeholders with justification for the money they spend.

How can this be done?

Asset Electrical: complex decisions made easy

Nexans’ Asset Electrical is a powerful asset management platform that helps you to strike the best balance between performance, OPEX, CAPEX and risk. 

Asset Electrical works by creating a “digital twin” – a model of your grid that includes network topology, inventory and Nexans’ unique asset ageing model. This allows you to carry out simulations and explore “what if” scenarios far into the future.

  • Predict pinch points and grid congestion.
  • Identify optimal locations for new loads on your existing infrastructure.
  • Engage stakeholders with robust data and clear visualisations.
  • Optimise your grid with targeted, evidence-based investments.

Asset Electrical provides rapid answers to your toughest questions. It’s also designed to deliver maximum ROI, with savings.

About the author

Bram Alkema

Bram ALKEMA joined Nexans as the business developer for Asset Management Solutions.
Bram is a Leading Asset Management Professional for the Development, Implementation, Deployment and Application of (Asset) Management Systems, Decision Making Processes and Investment Portfolio Management compliant with ISO 55001. He has 25+ years’ experience as senior manager of operational, tactical and strategical departments at energy utilities in the Netherlands.

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