The innovative FlexPlan methodology to reap the benefits of including storage and load flexibility in grid planning: methodology and regional study cases
In the last years, we are assisting to a high-speed deployment of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) in electric Transmission and Distribution (T&D) grids as well as to an increased penetration of Distributed Energy Sources (DER) in distribution grids. This is making grid planning activities more and more complex and affected by a high level of uncertainty and calls for a deep revision of the consolidated grid planning methodologies applied by the System Operators. On this pathway, the FlexPlan project (https://flexplan-project.eu/) aims at establishing a new T&D grid planning methodology considering the opportunity to install new storage devices as well as to perform a flexible exercise of some loads located in selected grid nodes as an alternative to building new lines. Local compensation of RES generation spikes could allow to reduce the amount of congestion the grid is exposed to with a less expensive and less environment-impacting intervention. This paper first analyses which aspects of the present consolidated grid planning methodologies applied by System Operators are becoming critical and then describes the key aspects of the new FlexPlan grid planning methodology aimed to overcome those criticalities. Then, the paper provides details on the reference scenarios adopted by FlexPlan for the three grid years (2030, 2040 and 2050) and provides the first results for the simulations carried out by each of the 6 regional cases. Finally, the paper provides some conclusions that can be drawn from these studies on the role flexibility will play in Europe in the medium-long term and on the benefits that can be reaped by taking it into account in the transmission and distribution grid planning process.