Electricity grid capacity shortage now threatens households

Photo: DutchNews.nl

The shortage of electricity grid capacity threatens to be an increasing problem for households as well as industry and new investment is needed to stop power cuts, according to an analysis by the economic affairs ministry.

The growth in the number of heat pumps, electric cars and solar panels could, in a worst case scenario, lead to problems for 1.5 million households by 2030, climate minister Rob Jetten told MPs in a briefing.

That figure is based on current grid capacity and planned investments should reduce the number of problem households by some 75%. Nevertheless, more needs to be done to make sure the grid is future proof, the analysis shows.

In particular, better estimates of future demand need to be worked out – such as how many solar panels a neighbourhood is likely to have and what electric car use is expected to be. 

Network managers also need better real time information about use in a given area so that, for example, households could be asked to remove their electric cars from the charger at times of shortages or to only use their washing machines at night, Jetten said.

RTL Nieuws reported on Monday that Utrecht plans to reduce the capacity of public electric car charging stations between 4 pm and 8 pm, when domestic demand is at its height. 

The plan, local council executive Lot van Hooijdonk said, is annoying, but unavoidable. “The time for unlimited demand and supply is over,” she said. 

“Major users have not been able to connect to the grid for several years now and we are close to the point where households too have to deal with this,” she said. “We have to choose who gets space on the grid and at what price, because this shortage will be with us in the coming years.”

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