• Electric vehicles and DSOs: working towards a joint future?

      Broeckx, Saskia; Ramos, Ariana; Meeus, Leonardo (2020)
      The discussion on the network integration of electric vehicles is reminiscent of that on the integration of intermittent renewables, such as solar and wind energy and other alternative sources, about ten years ago. Whenever radically new technologies gain traction, they may have a significant impact on the existing system. But whereas ten years ago any calls for early impact assessment were met with scepticism, the sector now seems to have learned its lesson. Although demand for electric vehicles is growing, mainstream adoption is still far from being achieved. Nevertheless, DSOs and regulators are already seriously considering the challenges ahead. After all, the mobility landscape may change faster than currently expected and they feel it is better to be prepared than to be caught out. On 12 December 2019, the DSO Chair organised a workshop to discuss challenges and issues related to the demand-side integration of electric vehicles into the electricity distribution network. Prior to the workshop we interviewed key stakeholders and participants, as well as several experts, to gather background information as a basis for discussion. This white paper provides a round-up of the findings and insights as well as suggesting areas for further exploration.
    • Energy Storage. Our take on business model and regulation

      Broeckx, Saskia; Ramos, Ariana; Fernandez, Luisa; Meeus, Leonardo (2019)
      The electricity landscape is in a state of flux, not least due to the increasing integration of renewable energy sources and distributed generation. This has sparked growing interest in energy storage, arguably an important part of the renewable energy mix. How can energy storage be used and integrated into existing power systems, in both residential and industrial environments? This is the key question the STORY project aims to address. Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, STORY is a five-year research project analysing new energy storage technologies and their benefits. It features six demonstration case studies and involves 18 partner institutions in seven European countries. One of these partner institutions is Vlerick Business School. In a context where several different actors can use storage assets, it is essential to identify business models and regulation that will make energy storage sustainable, which is exactly where our expertise lies. We have taken the lead on the business cases supporting the rollout of electricity storage at the distribution level of the grid; more specifically, on those business cases revolving around the challenges of storage deployment and the interaction between the business models and the enabling market and regulatory context.
    • The future of DSOs. Our take on energy communities and regulatory sandboxes

      Broeckx, Saskia; Hadush, Samson Yemane; Ramos, Ariana; Meeus, Leonardo (2019)
      The energy transition is changing the energy ecosystem. Until recently, energy production was mostly centralised, with relatively few large power plants connected to the transmission system operated by transmission system operators (TSOs). Regulatory changes to accommodate the integration of renewable energy initially focused on the transmission aspect, which resulted in a significant transformation of the TSOs, while leaving the distribution system operator (DSO) landscape virtually unaffected. In recent years, however, due in part to advances in renewable energy technology, power generation and distribution have become more decentralised. DSOs now find themselves at the centre of change, operating the grid which all these new players – producers and prosumers – want to connect to and use. The challenge is for DSOs to enable and facilitate change, rather than becoming a bottleneck. In 2018 the DSO Chair organised two workshops to discuss topical issues facing the future of DSOs: (1) energy communities and (2) regulatory sandboxes. Despite being selected independently of each other, these two topics turned out to be interrelated.
    • The future of renewable gases. Our take on the role of renewable gases in the energy transition

      Broeckx, Saskia; Roach, Martin; Meeus, Leonardo (2021)
      The European Green Deal aims to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050. This vision of a net-zero carbon future has prompted the European Commission to up its emission reduction target: by 2030, greenhouse gases should be cut by at least 55% compared to 1990. This target was approved by the European Council in December 2020 but is still to be translated into European legislation. Meeting this target requires decarbonisation of all carbon-intensive energy consumption sectors, i.e. industry, buildings and transport. Quite understandably, the gas sector is concerned about its future. Natural gas is, after all, a carbon-based energy source, which, in the absence of carbon capture and storage, contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Initially, many thought the energy transition would be an all-electric one. Those who still think so are now in the minority. Electrification is not always feasible, technically or economically. In some cases, full decarbonisation will require the use of alternative clean energy carriers, such as renewable and low-carbon gases, like hydrogen and biomethane. The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, along with other legislation, is currently being reviewed to update it in line with the new 2030 emission reduction target. This Directive already includes targets for electricity generation from renewable sources, so it is expected that similar targets will be set for renewable gases. Given that technology and infrastructure investments have a lifetime of typically 20 to 60 years, the gas sector has no time to lose. This is why the Fluxys Chair was founded in January 2018. Fluxys is the independent transmission system operator that owns and operates Belgium’s high-pressure natural gas transmission grid, its natural gas storage infrastructure and the liquefied natural gas terminal in Zeebrugge. Through academic research by Professor Leonardo Meeus and doctoral researcher Martin Roach with the Vlerick Energy Centre, the company is seeking to anticipate any upcoming Belgian and EU legislation in order to make informed investment decisions. How can the existing natural gas infrastructure be repurposed for the transport of decarbonised gases? How can we harness the full potential and opportunities of renewable gases? What context is needed to decarbonise the gas sector so that it can play a role in the future integrated energy system? Two years on, it is time to take stock of what we know and what we do not yet know. The white paper ‘The future of renewable gases’ outlines the context of our research, as well as providing background information.
    • Outlook on the European dso landscape 2020 - The trends that will change the name of your game

      Tackx, Koen; Meeus, Leonardo (2015)
      A recent survey by the Vlerick Energy Centre in close collaboration with KPMGon the future of Distribution System Operators (DSOs) shows that top executives from Distribution System Operators across Europe expect significant changes in their role and business environment. Vlerick Energy Centre Chairman, Daniel Dobbeni, explains: “Decentralised and renewable electricity generation as well as customers becoming rapidly both consumers and self-suppliers will change the power sector like never before. To keep the lights on, the industry actors must quickly acquire new knowledge and confront their experiences.” This research launched the new Vlerick-KPMG Chair on energy and was actively supported by the European sector organisations CEDEC, EDSO, Eurelectric and GEODE. Professor Leonardo Meeus and Professor Koen Tackx asked 108 executives from 24 countries about the changes they foresee in the energy sector by 2020. In total they represent up to 70% of all European distribution customers.
    • Raising public awareness and trust in transmission infrastructure projects with incentive regulation: Tools and biases

      Bhagwat, Pradyumna; Keyaerts, Nico; Meeus, Leonardo (2018)
      Raising public awareness and trust in transmission infrastructure development is one of the key current challenges facing Transmission System Operators (TSOs) and other project developers. The result can be costly delays. Fine-tuning the regulatory toolbox that National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) apply to incentivise TSOs can be part of the solution. The toolbox consists of cost-plus or rate of return regulation, price or revenue cap regulation, and output regulation. Each of these tools has strengths and limitations in terms of biases. In this brief, we identify the biases that are specific to stakeholder engagement activities that TSOs undertake to increase the public awareness and trust. Under the cost-plus approach, NRAs are biased towards the least controversial activity. Thus, the TSOs will try to anticipate the costs that will be more easily approved by the regulator. However, these least controversial activities may not be the most effective. Under the price/revenue cap, TSOs can be biased towards prioritising activities that result in the highest direct improvement of cost efficiency. They can also be biased in selecting the least controversial activities rather than the most cost-effective ones, simply because it can adversely affect their reputation and their engagement with the regulator. Under output regulation, independent experts can help the regulator to assess and challenge the stakeholder engagement activities undertaken by a TSO. This approach, however, requires a higher level of sophistication and complexity so that it can only be managed properly by a regulatory agency with sufficient resources and skills.
    • What every DSO should know about digital: transformational perspectives

      Momber, Ilan; Viaene, Stijn; Meeus, Leonardo (2016)