Meeting the Challenges of High Levels of Micro-Generating Technologies Connected to the Distribution Network

Forrest, D. Simon, A. Robin Wallace


Liberalised electricity industries around the world are experiencing increasing growth inrenewable energy generating plant that tends to be smaller, distributed, unconstrained and connectedto the lower voltage distribution network. Recent technical advances in development and fallingcosts of micro-generating units such as fuel cells, photovoltaics and domestic combined heat andpower, that can be located in domestic homes or in small business premises, have meant that aconsiderable amount of the conventional electricity supply could be met by these new technologies.Domestic generation offers the potential to cut CO2 emissions, reduce transmission and distributionlosses, flatten demand peaks, improve reliability of supply and to provide a cheaper energy solutionfor the consumer. However, with these benefits come many operational, technical and commercialchallenges for the Distribution Network Operator (DNO).

Domestic generation units will be connected to the DN in an unplanned, relativelyunrestricted, unconstrained manner and will be located at the very edges of the DN. Where a largenumber of these units are installed in a specific area, this could lead to adverse effects on the DN. Ifthe high levels of domestic generation that are being predicted are to be met, it will become necessaryfor DNOs to understand the impact on their systems all the way to the extreme edges.

In collaboration with a DNO, novel techniques are being developed to analyse the impactof domestic generation. This will determine the effects that a high level of domestic generation willhave on the network. This paper explains these techniques. It then analyses the expected level ofdomestic generation penetration that a local DN can accommodate before it becomes detrimental tothe DN?s performance. Finally it discusses methods by which domestic generation can best beaccommodated.

Full Text: