The future of DSOs

Our take on energy communities and regulatory sandboxes

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.

Prior to each 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 from each workshop as well as suggesting areas for further exploration.

Download the white paper

* A situation as described in scenario 3 of our white paper “Who will lead the energy market in 2030?”, November 2015.

Key insights

1 Energy communities a.k.a. citizens energy communities

1.1 CECs: what they do and why
1.2 CECs and DSOs: how to work together
1.3 How should CECs be supported?
1.4 What next?

2 Regulatory sandboxes

2.1 What’s in a name?
2.2 Approved innovations and exemptions granted
2.3 Discussion and findings
2.4 What next?

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The energy sector is likely to face more changes in the next 10 years than in the last 100. New technologies, organisational challenges, regulation… they will affect you, as a business and as a customer. But change also equals opportunities – even if there are no easy answers. The Vlerick Energy Centre will help you to master that change. We will challenge you to think ahead and find new solutions for tomorrow’s world.

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