Distributed Power Generation in Europe: technical issues for further integration

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ISSN 1018-5593
A. L'Abbate
G. Fulli
F. Starr
S. Peteves
Publications Office of the European Union

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The electric power sector in Europe is currently facing different changes and evolutions mainly in response to the three European Union (EU) energy-related challenges – environmental demand. These issues may also represent drivers for the further penetration of Distributed Power Generation (hereinafter simply Distributed Generation, or DG) technologies in Europe. In fact, several EU countries are already recording a gradual and steady upward trend in deploying distributed power sources.

This trend is also triggered by emerging technological solutions for more efficient, environmentally-friendly and small-size generating units. Additionally, to address the growing electricity demand, the traditional approach of adding new large generation and transmission capacity to the system is frequently hindered by social, economic and environmental constraints in building new high capacity infrastructures. These impediments may then contribute to further DG utilisation. It has also to be remarked that the recent new targets for Renewable Energy Sources (RES) penetration in the EU (globally 20% of energy consumption covered by RES by 2020) will foster a rising DG deployment in the EU countries.

The present Report focuses on the potential role of Distributed Generation against the above described background. More specifically, this work aims to investigate the developments related to DG technologies and address the technical issues towards the DG integration into the European power systems.

As a starting point the concept of Distributed Generation is characterised for the purpose of the study. Distributed Generation, defined as an electric power source connected to the power distribution network, serving a customer on-site or providing network support, may offer various benefits to the European electric power systems. DG technologies may consist of small/medium size, modular energy conversion units, which are generally located close to end users and transform primary energy resources into electricity (and in some cases heat and cooling via Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technology).