Congestion in the Energy Grid

In The Netherlands, there is an interesting debate going around congestion and capacity of the grid. An increasing number of solar parks is looking to connect to the grid, but are facing practical problems. The location where they are planning to build their park has too low capacity to connect such large volumes of renewable production.

It makes perfect sense though:

  • The locations where these parks are typically scheduled are far away from large cities. They are in rural areas, where space is plentiful and cheap.
  • There are currently also few people or industries nearby, thus the current grid is fit for (current) purpose. It was not designed for the production of for example a solar park.
  • A typical project when building a solar park takes a few years from concept to completion. Getting finances, stakeholders on board en the logistics of the hardware can be a complex endeavour, but perfectly doable in a few years.
  • A typical plan to upgrade the grid and increase the capacity takes closer to a decade. There are many governmental procedures to get the permits and probably several other complicating factors I am not even aware of.

Though the solar plant projects were spurred into action by programs like the Dutch SDE+, without the grid capacity to get their product to the market they have to wait for the grid to be ready.

It feels like I am building a large factory in the middle of nowhere where there are no roads. I can complain all I want about there not being any roads to get the construction started, raw materials in and products out, but I bet I could have checked the availability of that road upfront right?

I think it would have been more constructive if both sides in this discussion would have chosen to have a dialogue with each other in an early stage, instead of fighting in the papers on who is to blame and making cases in court about it. In that last case, I seriously think that is time and money wasted, not effectively used to further the energy transition.