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The Role of The DNOs In Achieving the Net Zero Goals

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Climate change is becoming more intense and perceptible. In the meantime the political environment is no less stressful, impacting strongly the energy sector causing sky-rocketing and volatile prices on gas, electricity and other raw materials. All this requires more frequent discussions and actual measures for reducing harmful emissions in the atmosphere and decarbonization of economies. The global community has bonded together around several key zero-consumption goals. What role should Distribution Network Operators (DNO) play in achieving these goals, and what steps should they take? The answers to these questions can be found in the article below.

What Is a DNO?

A distribution network operator (DNO), also known as a distribution system operator (DSO), manages the electric power distribution system that serves the majority of end users. Each country may have numerous local distribution network operators. They are distinct from the transmission system operator, who is in charge of transporting power in bulk throughout the country.

It is critical for distribution network operators (DNOs) to provide customers with reliable electricity while also improving the efficiency of the electric system and optimizing the scheduling of distributed generation (DG) units. As a result, proper design and modeling of distribution systems by DNO has been identified as an important issue in such systems. The challenge for DNOs in the context of net zero goals is to build smarter systems and optimize their processes.

What Are Net Zero Goals

A net zero state is one in which greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere are balanced by removal from the atmosphere.

The term net zero is important because, at least for CO2, this is the point at which global warming ceases. The Paris Agreement emphasizes the importance of net zero emissions, requiring states to “achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals of greenhouse gases by sinks in the second half of this century.”

The ‘net’ in net zero is significant because it will be extremely difficult to reduce all emissions to zero within the required timeframe. We will almost certainly need to increase removals in addition to making deep and widespread cuts in emissions. To be effective, net zero must be permanent, meaning that any greenhouse gas removals do not leak into the atmosphere over time, such as through forest destruction or improper storage of removed carbon dioxide.

Net zero is the internationally agreed-upon goal for mitigating global warming in the second half of the century, and the IPCC concluded that net zero CO2 by 2050 is required to stay within 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Many actors will be able to achieve absolute zero or zero emissions in the process, which is why the terms used in the global ‘Race to Zero’ campaign aimed at increasing ambition were chosen. Others will need to scale up removals either directly or indirectly through other projects, hence the ‘net’ in net zero.

What Is the Role of DSOs In the Process of Reaching Net Zero?

Many companies are gradually recognizing their responsibility for climate change and beginning to take action, often prompted by consumer and investor interest in sustainability. However, organizations are employing a variety of strategies to achieve net zero.

  • Offsetting. Offsetting refers to removing emissions either naturally (by planting trees) or technologically (by using CCS) in order to achieve net-zero emissions.
  • Green tariffs. „Tariffs for the environment“ are utility programs in regulated electricity markets that allow large commercial and industrial customers to purchase bundled renewable electricity from a specific project at a reduced utility tariff rate. This allows these larger energy customers to meet their various net zero, sustainability, and renewable energy goals.
  • Credits for renewable energy (RECs). Renewable energy credits are non-tangible, tradable commodities that demonstrate that 1 MWh of electricity was generated using a renewable energy resource. RECs are ideal for environmentally conscious businesses looking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Energy resources that are distributed (DERs). Rooftop solar panels are the most common and fastest-growing type of DER, but other types, such as electric vehicles (EVs) and battery storage, are also available. DERs are central to the clean and resilient energy future desired by many policymakers and constituents. DERs can assist in meeting emissions targets while also lowering energy costs.
  • Software for managing energy and sustainability. Energy and sustainability management is most likely the most hands-on approach to net zero. It entails identifying areas of inefficiency in building(s) using energy and sustainability management software, then implementing efficiency projects to reduce energy used/wasted. The result? Lowering emissions and making it easier to report your successes.

However, one of the most important tasks for DSOs in achieving the Net Zero goals is to better plan electricity distribution. To be able to do so, they must have a thorough understanding of how and where this energy is consumed. When the system is regularly and properly monitored, measured and analyzed, the management can make better decisions about its investments, services and operations.

The Smart Grid Is the Bloodline of The Net Zero

The combination of smart, clean electricity and digitalization the quickest way to decarbonize the world. Change is already underway: we are transitioning to electric heating, cooking, and transportation, making it easier to identify and reduce energy waste. When it comes to electricity versus other power sources, the former is a no-brainer. When it comes to ‘useful energy,’ electricity has nearly 100 percent maximum thermal efficiency, whereas other sources, such as combustion engines, lose up to 67 percent. As a result, EV passenger cars require 3-4 times less energy than conventional ICE engines.

However, to enable the energy transition, change must come on the level of infrastructure, too. The good news is that smart grids can support a 70-80% decarbonised power generation mix, as well as decentralized and agile energy supply. Microgrids will also play an increasing role in areas where main grids are unreliable; they can operate independently, supporting local demand while reducing strain on the main grid. Grids can be more efficient, resilient, and people-centric with smart technology.

Solutions by ADD Bulgaria

ADD Bulgaria has been developing and implementing intelligent infrastructure solutions in the energy and industry sectors to assist you in overcoming operational inefficiency, reducing energy waste, preventing electricity theft, and upgrading your processes, allowing you to better manage your organization.

The advantages of smart metering and monitoring systems for electricity:

  • They are a tool that assists customers in better managing their energy consumption;
  • Intelligent software provides real-time data on electrical parameters, allowing for faster detection of system interference and immediate corrective actions to minimize the impact of events such as interruptions on the customer.
  • Smart meters also assist the DSO in better understanding the needs of the electricity grid than older appliances. This improved understanding enables systematic planning to meet consumers’ energy needs, also known as „demand management.“
  • High-performance management decisions are based on data analysis. The vast amount of data provided by smart meters in the MDM (Meter Data Management) enables managers at all levels to analyze and organize the elimination of various defects in the electricity grid, detect and eliminate technical and non-technical losses, allocate the functions of emergency groups to optimize costs, and wisely plan strategic investments for the future.
  • Data transfer is encrypted. Based on data encryption and a key management system, the system provides secure access, storage, and management of information from electricity meters.
  • The AMI system and Smart Grids lower maintenance costs by shortening the time it takes to locate and identify infrastructure problems and malfunctions;
  • The AMI system and Smart Grid allow remote meter reading, collection and storage which lower the measurement costs and make the process much more efficient.

Take a look at our solutions AMI and Arista EIM to learn more.