A number of tools and mechanisms have been put in place to enable electricity market players to manage the balance between generation and consumption at all times, despite the uncertainties and new challenges associated with the rise of renewables. Remember, imbalances on the grid cause power cuts!
Generation forecasts for wind and solar power
Elia issues a sort of ‘renewable energy forecast’, which it makes available to the market. Market players can go to Elia’s site to consult generation forecasts for wind and solar power and compare them with the actual situation in real time.
This enables them to determine how much non-renewable energy they will need to meet their customers’ needs, in addition to the renewable energy. They can then reserve the electricity they need from power stations.
By comparing forecasts and measurements, they can also refine the reliability of the forecasting information they use.
Exporting or importing electricity
Electricity knows no borders! We are part of a large, interconnected electricity grid that stretches from Portugal to Poland. This situation is a real advantage for all concerned: if one country is generating too much electricity, the electricity can be exported to a country that does not have enough.
When too much electricity is available, it is sometimes traded on the wholesale market at a negative price.
If too much or too little electricity is being generated, another solution is to ask power stations to reduce or increase their output. Elia concludes contracts with various producers to that end.
In the electricity sector, supply is usually matched to demand. However, we are now seeing the emergence of mechanisms designed to match consumption to the amount of electricity available.
For instance, we can ask industrial consumers to cut their consumption by shutting down certain production lines, in exchange for financial compensation.
In the future, similar mechanisms may apply to household customers too.