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Increasing distribution system hosting capacity

Developing distribution system planning, operation, control and regulation for the future’s all-electric society.


The energy transition is shifting the world away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. This transition has a major impact on the entire energy sector, from generation, via transmission and distribution to markets and end-use.

In the electricity sector, the transition is leading to a massive influx of intermittent renewable generation. By 2050, it is expected that electricity generation and consumption in Europe will at least double. This will put an unprecedented strain on the transmission and distribution system’s capacity to handle the increased and more dynamic flow of electricity.

The distribution system operators (DSOs) and the electricity distribution networks play a key role in enabling a successful energy transition – facing higher volatility in energy supply and new challenges with regards to grid stability, more active and flexible electricity consumption, generation feed-in management, and increased sector coupling of several energy carriers via storage and conversion technologies.

This calls for new methodologies and technologies for network planning, operation, control, and regulation, to maximise the capability of the distribution system to connect additional distributed energy resources and loads (generation, dynamic loads, storage, etc..) to the network, without violating given technical restrictions (voltage loading, etc) – i.e. maximising the hosting capacity of the distribution network.

There is no quick fix for the challenges ahead, and the solution will include enhanced automatization and utilisation of existing distribution networks infrastructure, targeted grid expansion schemes, changes in network planning and operation, together with significant modifications in regulatory frameworks.

Workshop themes

Theme 1 – Enhancing hosting capacity through new methods for network planning and design

As the demand for electricity continues to soar, it is crucial to prioritise network planning and design that can effectively support increased hosting capacity.

The integration of various energy sectors, such as electricity, heating, cooling, and transportation, can assist in creating resilient and efficient future energy systems. By strategically coupling these sectors and optimising their interconnections, networks can accommodate higher loads and maintain a reliable energy supply. Moreover, leveraging local generation sources, implementing load and generation flexibility measures, and incorporating storage technologies are essential for maximising hosting capacity. Decentralised generation, combined with the ability to adjust energy consumption patterns, allows for better resource utilisation, and minimises strain on the network during peak periods.

Long-term forecasting and risk management strategies are also critical in assisting network planning to anticipate future demands, uncertainties, and potential risks. Network planners can make informed decisions, optimise infrastructure investments, and mitigate potential challenges by leveraging data-driven insights and employing robust modelling techniques.

Successful network planning and design to support increased hosting capacity require holistic approaches that integrate multiple energy sectors, leverages local resources, optimises load and generation flexibility, and incorporates storage technologies. By embracing these approaches, energy systems can effectively meet the growing demands of an electrified society while ensuring reliability, resilience, and sustainability.

Preferred topics for papers in Theme 1 are:

  • Planning methodologies for an all-electric society
  • Planning for increasing hosting capacity, also considering multi-energy systems
  • Including the operation of local generation, load flexibility, and storage technologies in distribution planning
  • Local energy communities as actors in planning for increasing hosting capacity
  • Forecasting (short-term, long-term, geospatial)
  • Artificial intelligence used in new planning methodologies
  • Uncertainty and risk management.

Theme 2 – Network operation and control supporting increased hosting capacity

Following the energy transition, operation and control of the distribution systems are facing new challenges - which require new ways of thinking and new practices to ensure continuity and quality of electricity supply.

There are many ideas for controlling generation and demand, such as day ahead, intra-day, or even near real time. Local control as voltage-VAR-control, decentralized or centralized solutions for regulating voltage levels or limiting loads and generation curtailment have been applied in several pilots.

DSO’s SCADA-systems with interfaces to customers, digitalized and automated substations as well as forecasts and state estimation, are important topics in the field of operation in distribution business. An increased share of inverter-based decentralized electricity generation will also require assessing impacts on system stability, post-fault restoration, power quality and short circuit protection.

Preferred topics for papers in Theme 2 are:

  • Distribution system supervision and control
  • Technical interfaces between system actors
  • Distribution system state estimation
  • Short term prediction of system load flow
  • Consequences of sector coupling
  • System stability and ability of system restoration
  • Protection under increased electrification
  • Monitoring of power quality
  • Dynamic hosting capacity solutions.

Theme 3 – Enabling increased hosting capacity through regulation, business models and customer involvement

Increasing the hosting capacity of distribution grids requires an acceleration of innovation, interaction, and investments. While conventional grid modernization and expansion will remain as important as ever, digital solutions and how to engage with consumers and prosumers will play a key role to foster the grid’s uptake ability of distributed energy resources.

In parallel with the development of the energy system, stakeholders, regulation, and market paradigms need to adapt to ensure the necessary speed and flexibility to tackle the challenges of the energy transition and increase the public participation in the distribution area.

In consequence the regulatory framework needs to be revised and developed to facilitate new business models and short-, medium- and long-term market mechanisms in line with societal needs, also taking into account public approval.

Preferred topics for papers in Theme 3 are:

  • Practical experiences of smart grid regulation, flexibility markets, dynamic network tariffs, flexible connection agreements, “go-to” areas and others.
  • Regulation encouraging the usage of flexibility mechanisms as an alternative to network reinforcements
  • New business models and tariffs supporting demand side flexibility and sector coupling
  • Citizens’ and public authorities’ awareness, participation (active or passive) and acceptance to increase hosting capacity
  • Interaction with customers and information exchange, local energy optimization, energy communities, aggregators, etc
  • Disruptive technologies and cross-industry applications, e.g. using artificial intelligence.