NL residents to face flickering lights, power outages as grid fills up, Alliander warns
The Netherlands’ power grid is so full that it has to be temporarily overloaded to provide energy to as many people as possible, Alliander, grid operator Liander’s parent company, warned when presenting its annual figures on Thursday. That means consumers will have to get used to flickering lights and power outages in the coming year. Customers with solar panels also won’t always be able to return their generated power to the grid.
The problems on the grid are the result of sustainability measures. About 1 million heat pumps have been installed in the Netherlands, RTL Nieuws reports. They use less natural gas but more electricity. The number of electric cars has tripled in 2.5 years, and they all require charging. And solar panels are installed on the roof of 760,000 homes and small businesses affiliated with Liander. And pushing power back onto the grid also requires grid capacity.
The Netherlands’ power grid was built to bring power to businesses and homes. But now, so much power is demanded and supplied back that it causes grid congestion. Current power cables are too thin for this increase in supply and demand.
Liander’s electricity network is reaching the limits of growth, Alliander CEO Maarten Otto said. “In many places, the electricity grid in residential areas is not designed for the speed at which consumers are making their homes more sustainable. That means that in the near future, unfortunately, we will temporarily not be able to directly help[ all consumers and companies with a small-scale consumption connection when the grid fills up in the district.”
Alliander plans to invest about 5 billion euros into the low-voltage network that supplies power to residential areas up to 2030. Last year, the company already pushed 1.2 billion euros into expanding the gas and electricity grid.
About a third of the streets in Liander’s service area will have to e opened for grid reinforcement. The company must also build 20,000 new transformer stations in residential areas to keep up with supply and demand.
In the meantime, customers may face longer waiting times for a new connection or expansion of a current connection. They might be unable to return generated solar power to the grid on days with high supply. They may see their lights flickering more often, and in extreme cases, may face more frequent power outages.