Technological development has an impact on the electricity network market in many ways. Digitisation and new IT solutions will create opportunities moving forward, including the conditions for storing and analysing metering data that can be used for product development and new service for customers, but also management of electricity networks that creates an efficient electricity system that secures supply.
Production – increasingly local and renewable
A major increase in the proportion of renewable energy sources is currently under way in the form of solar and wind power. Electricity is also produced locally to an increasing extent. In some cases, consumers are also prosumers, since they connect systems such as solar panels or small wind turbines to the grid, into which they can feed their surplus electricity.
The new production places new demands on the electricity network, which needs to become more flexible and able to function in both directions. On specific days and at specific times, the grid needs to receive locally produced surplus electricity, while on other days it needs to distribute supplementary electricity from power stations far away.
At certain times, more electricity will be produced than is used and, in these cases, the networks must “know” how much electricity can be distributed to other parts of the country or exported, as well as how much needs to be stored for use later in the day or week.
Electrification of the transport industry – an eagerly awaited development
The significance of electric vehicles in terms of environment and health means electrification of the transport industry is an urgent and prioritised issue for the future. The electrification has so far mainly reached passenger cars in cities, and in 2017 there were approximately 45,000 electric cars in Sweden. Electric buses are being tested mainly in public transportation, while the electrification of road transportation and ports is still at an early stage. Electric vehicles present both an opportunity and a challenge for the grid – they will lead to increased load and a need for more capacity and load control in the long term, but at the same time offer an opportunity for storage that could balance electricity consumption in the future.
An urbanised and digitised society
This urbanized and digitised society is placing very high demands on reliability in every part of the country, and the electricity network must therefore be modern, flexible and smart to meet these needs. Thanks to smart grids, the energy system and electricity consumption can be managed in a more efficient way, either by customers themselves or automatically. Smart grids also make it possible to identify, isolate and even rectify faults before there is an outage. Redundancy in the electricity network will also become more important, meaning the grid is increasingly built using alternative connections. If a fault occurs in one location in the grid, it must be possible for the electricity to be reconnected and rerouted so that as few customers as possible are affected by an outage.
The urbanisation trend is progressing. The electricity networks need to be extended and redeveloped to enable new residential areas, kindergartens, schools, public transportation, offices and shops. Greater cooperation between the electricity network and CHP production could become one way to meet the cities’ power demands.