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Netherlands Distribution Utility First in Europe to Go Live with GE's T-Forecast Predictive Analytics Software

Stedin, a Netherlands distribution network operator based in Rotterdam, went live with GE Grid Solutions' Transmission Forecast (T-Forecast) software from GE's Grid Solutions this week -- the software's first implementation in Europe.

Like many distribution utilities, Stedin faces the challenges associated with managing increasing amounts of variable, renewable power coursing across its network, from sources both behind and in front of the meter. The utility is looking to T-Forecast to better manage them.

Stedin delivers electricity to some 2.2 million customers in the southern Netherlands. "The growth of distributed energy resources (DERs) – such as renewable wind and solar energy which ebb and flow based on weather patterns – coupled with the onset of micro-grids and storage alternatives, have increased the variability and complexity in energy flow," the companies explain.

Better grid management of distributed and renewable power

"With this new technology, we will be able to better predict the energy load flows in the electrical grid, and in turn, we can increase efficiency and reliability for our customers,” said Stedin CTO Peter Hermans. “As renewable energy usage continues to increase, this technology provides a seamless path for future required functionalities and market interactions, including using flexibility for congestion management.”

Stedin is looking to invest in emerging technologies that provide flexibility in terms of deployment, and in terms of accommodating two-way interactions that enable it to efficiently and cost-effectively manage variability on both the generation and consumption as an alternative to investing in traditional ways and means of reinforcing the grid.

Stedin began equipping its electricity distribution stations with new technology that enables it to more efficiently and cost-effectively maintain its distribution network last year. The new system collects data regarding the performance of the stations and reports this in real time. "With this information we can monitor the technical condition of our stations 24/7. As a result, possible weaknesses can be detected earlier so that preventive maintenance can take place in a targeted manner before a power failure occurs," the distribution utility explains.

T-Forecast will add to those capabilities by providing the distribution network operator the ability "to predict where flexible deployment is required, thereby lowering the risk of an unbalanced grid or local overload, even when levels of decentralized generation are high, and ensuring a stable electricity supply," the companies say.

Regulatory compliance

T-Forecast improves the ability of utilities to predict power flows at points of grid interconnection, GE explains. That allows Stedin and TenneT, the Netherlands' transmission system operator (TSO), to better manage variable and intermittent flows of renewable power generation connected to the grid.

Of particular significance, the software complies with the TSO's Balance of Responsible Parties declarations and uses machine learning technology to produce reliable forecasts of power flows spanning 39 primary substations. That ensures Stedin's compliance with regulations associated with the European Union's "third energy package," more specifically two related to forecasting load flows on electrical grids, GE explains.

The "third energy package" aims to create an single gas and electricity market that spans the E.U., the stated aim being "to help keep prices as low as possible and increase standards of service and security of supply."

T-Forecast is based on GE's DER Orchestration platform and it's part and parcel of GE Grid Solutions' Digital Energy portfolio, an expanding set of power network software packages and applications, many based on its Predix analytics and development platform, the company is looking to give it a leg up as power and energy become more digitized, decentralized and "decarbonized."

"A new energy system is being created in the Netherlands," Stedin says. "This is due to the transition from a fossil to a sustainable energy supply, the increase in electricity consumption (including by electric transport) and the transition to another way of heating (gas-free) of the built environment. It is a system that can differ greatly from one place to another and where all kinds of (new) players contribute. This requires adjustments and innovations, without compromising the reliability and affordability of the energy supply."

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