A Comprehensive Guide to the Real-Time Interface:
Addressing Grid Challenges with EU and Dutch Legislation
Recently, the energy landscape in the European Union and the Netherlands has undergone a remarkable transformation. With the growing prominence of sustainable energy generation, driven by wind turbines and solar panels, the power grid has faced unprecedented challenges. To address these issues, grid operators and market players have collaborated to develop the Real-Time Interface (RTI). In this first part of our series “A Comprehensive Guide to Real-Time Interface”, we delve into the grid challenges that led to the RTI and explore the legislative drivers behind its development.
1. Understanding the Grid Challenges
Grid Congestion and the Energy Transition
The energy transition is characterized by the rise of sustainable energy sources and electrification. In the Netherlands, we witnessed a 106% increase in renewable energy production between 2018 and 2021 [Source: International Energy Agency]. This surge primarily results from the proliferation of wind turbines and solar panels, which integrate into the electricity grid. However, this increase in renewable energy production, while reducing carbon emissions, presents new challenges:
- Initially, the grid was designed to transport electricity from large coal and gas plants to end users. Grids now need to transport electricity between consumers leading to substantial power loads on grid sections that were never designed to handle these. This leads to grid congestion problems (traffic jams) and transportation restrictions.
- The rate of adoption of weather-dependent energy sources has made the power grid increasingly unpredictable due to its short-term peaks, necessitating a rapid adaptation of the whole energy system to these dynamic changes.
This has amplified the need for seamless cooperation between electricity generators and grid operators to ensure grid stability and reliability.
2. EU Legislation as the Driving Force
The Role of Regulation (EU) 2016/631
The Real-Time Interface (RTI) finds its origins in the Commission Regulation (EU) 2016/631 of April 2016, which established a network code referred to as RfG (Requirements for Generators). This European regulation is part of a broader initiative encompassing eight European codes aimed at ensuring affordable and reliable energy for European citizens while facilitating the energy transition. The RfG mandates that power-generating units must have an interface that allows grid operators to adjust their output during serious instability.
Application in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, the interface complying with the RfG is known as the Real-Time Interface. Its requirements are developed by Netbeheer Nederland, and are also guaranteed in the new energy law and the electricity grid code.
3. Mandatory Implementation on the Horizon
Looking to the future, the Real-Time Interface will play a pivotal role in transforming the Dutch energy landscape. From 2024, it will be a mandatory requirement for all solar parks and wind turbine installations with a capacity between 1 and 50 MW (category B power-generating module) in the Netherlands. Here’s what you need to know:
- Mandatory Implementation: Installations with capacities ranging from 1 to 50 MW, will be mandated in 2024 to have a certified customer endpoint with RTI functionality. However, the grid operator can also enforce the real-time interface requirement earlier if necessary to fulfill its statutory tasks.
- First rollout: The three largest grid operators, Stedin, Enexis and Liander, already started practical tests in Q2 2023 with generators that have voluntarily registered for this, and the first rollout in Q3 2023.
- Preparing for Compliance: Owners of Category B assets must prepare for compliance with this new regulatory mandate. This preparation involves understanding the technical specifications of the RTI, ensuring that they have a certified customer endpoint, such as the Teleport, and staying informed about the compliance deadlines.
- Anticipating Benefits: While mandatory compliance may seem like a regulatory burden, it’s essential to recognize the substantial benefits of the RTI. It empowers energy asset owners to actively participate in grid management, optimize their operations, revenue, and contribute to a more resilient and sustainable energy system. The RTI’s real-time capabilities enable quick response to grid conditions, helping prevent overloads and outages. But most importantly, it will enable the DSO to connect more renewable energy producers to the existing grid, which isn’t possible at the moment.
To conclude, the Real-Time Interface is not only a regulatory requirement but a transformative tool shaping the future of the Dutch energy sector. As Thijs Nugteren, RTI working group chairman, highlighted it: “The Real-Time Interface ensures a more safe and efficient use of the energy system and thus contributes in an important way to the energy transition.” By understanding the grid challenges, appreciating the legislative push from the EU, and proactively preparing for compliance, asset owners can embrace this innovation as a means to a more sustainable and reliable energy future.
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