Grid congestion and solar parks

Using or producing electricity every moment of the day? There is not always enough space for that. The electricity grid can reach a maximum.

We are producing and using more and more renewable energy in the Netherlands, but never before has this increase been as great as in recent years. Consequently, the demand for space on the grid is also growing explosively, causing the grid to become (temporarily) full in some places. This means that in some areas the load can be so high at certain times that the maximum capacity of the grid is reached. As a result, companies or individuals who want a larger power connection sometimes cannot be served, and new renewable energy projects might not get connected to the grid in many places.

The national and regional governments, grid operators, ACM and market parties presented the National Grid Congestion Action Program in December 2022 to create more space on the grid. This can be done by making the electricity grid heavier, encouraging smarter use of the grid with new regulations, encouraging more flexible energy use, and using large-scale battery systems that can store energy.

How can we relieve pressure on the power grid?

The government considers it important that households and businesses can continue to be sustainable in the coming years. Together with grid operators, we are looking for ways to counteract a full power grid. The government wants to achieve this in 4 different ways:

Expand the power grid faster
Network operators are investing heavily to expand the grid in the coming years. The costs of this will rise to €8 billion a year starting in 2025. This means that more and thicker copper cables under and above ground will be installed to carry the large amounts of electricity. More high- and medium-voltage substations will be placed, as well as transformer houses in residential areas.

Making smarter use of the power grid
Pressure on the electricity grid does not always occur, but mainly at peak times. Such as between 4 pm and 8 pm. That’s when both households and businesses use a lot of electricity. In order to create more space on the grid at those times, network operators make agreements with companies that use a lot of power. This is also known as congestion management. It means that they are allowed to use less power at peak times. At the same time, agreements are made with solar parks and wind farms to switch off when the grid is overloaded.

Better matching supply and demand
Matching supply and demand can be done by encouraging so-called energy hubs. In such an energy hub, companies located near each other coordinate their supply and demand of energy. As a result, less space is needed on the grid. Also, starting in 2024, companies can share the amount of available power with each other through group contracts.

Smart charging and making homes more sustainable
For households, smart, controllable heat pumps and charging stations will become the standard. This way, they will put less strain on the electricity grid. For example, by turning heat pumps or charging stations on when the grid isn’t used as much, or switching them off at peak times.