Environmental Modeling & Assessment

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 471–495 | Cite as

Impacts of Decentralized Power Generation on Distribution Networks: a Statistical Typology of European Countries

  • Darius Corbier
  • Frédéric Gonand
  • Marie BessecEmail author


The development of decentralized sources of power out of renewable sources of energies has been triggering far-reaching consequences for Distribution System Operators over the past decade in Europe. Our paper benchmarks across 23 European countries the impact of the development of renewables on the physical characteristics of power distribution networks and on their investments. It builds on a large spectrum of databases of quantitative indicators about the dynamics of installed capacity of renewable energy resources and the power generation out of them, electricity independence, quality of electricity distribution, smart grids investments, Network System Operators capital expenditures, length of the distribution networks, overall costs of power networks paid by private agents, and electricity losses, all in relation with the development of decentralized generation. The heterogeneity of these indicators across Europe appears to be wide notably because of physical constraints, historic legacies, or policy and regulatory choices. A cluster analysis allows for deriving six groups of countries that display statistically homogenous characteristics. Our results may provide decision makers and regulators with a tool helping them to concentrate on the main issues specific to their countries as compared to the European median, and to look for possible solutions in the experience of other clusters which are shown to perform better for some indicators.


Renewables Electric utilities Distribution networks Cluster analysis 

JEL Classification

C38 L94 Q42 


  1. 1.
    ABS Energy Research (2006). British utility market report. Ed. 3 2006.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ackermann T. (2013), "What Matters for Successful Integration of Distributed Generation", presented at IEA Workshop, Paris, October 1st 2013.
  3. 3.
    Agora EnergieWende (2013). Cost optimal expansion of renewables in Germany: a comparison of strategies for expanding wind and solar power in Germany.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Anaya K. and Pollitt M. (2014). Integrating distributed generation: regulation and trends in three leading countries, Working Paper 1423, University of Cambridge.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Auer H. et Haas R. (2016), On integrating large shares of variable renewables into the electricity system, energy, Vol. 115, pp. 1592–1601.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bayer E. (2015). Report on the German power system, Agora EnergieWende.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bialek J. and Pollitt M. (2007). Electricity network investment and regulation for a low carbon future, Cambridge University working papers in economics, EPRG 0721.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bichler M. (2012). Smart grids and the energy transformation: Mapping smart grid activities in Germany, smart energy for Europe platform (SEFEP) working paper.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Blokhuis, E., Brouwers, B., van der Putten, E., & Schaefer, W. (2011). Peak loads and network investments in sustainable energy transitions. Energy Policy, 39(10), 6220–6233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bundesnetzagentur (2013). Monitoring report 2012.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bundesnetzagentur (2014). Monitoring report 2013.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Cali U., Ropenus S. and Schroder S. (2009). Development of interactions between distributed generation and distribution system operators: West Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain and The United Kingdom.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Cambini, C., Meletiou, A., Bompard, E., & Masera, M. (2016). Market and regulatory factors influencing smart-grid investment in Europe: evidence from pilot projects and implications for reform. Utilities Policy, 6, 36–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    ClimateAction (2016). Municipalities in Italy using renewables to provide 100% of their energy,
  15. 15.
    Coelli, T., Gautier, A., Perelman, S., & Saplacan-Pop, R. (2013). Estimating the cost of improving quality in electricity distribution: A parametric distance function approach. Energy Policy, 53, 287–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Commission for Energy Regulaiton (2010), "Decision on 2011 to 2015 distribution revenue for ESB Networks Ltd.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Cossent, R., Gomez, T., & Frias, P. (2009). Towards a future with large penetration of distributed generation: Is the current regulation of electricity distribution ready? Regulatory recommendations under a European perspective. Energy Policy, 37(3), 1145–1155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Cossent, R., Gomez, T., & Olmos, L. (2011). Large scale integration of renewable and distributed generation of electricity in Spain: Current situation and future needs. Energy Policy, 39(12), 8078–8087.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Council of European Energy Regulators (2014). CEER Benchmarking Report 5.1 on the continuity of electricity supply - Data update.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Council of European Energy Regulators (2016). 6th CEER Benchmarking Report on the quality of electricity and gas supply.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Covrig C., Ardelean M., Vasiljevska J., Mengolini A., Fulli G. and Amoiralis E. (2014). Smart grids projects outlook 2014, Joint Research Center of The European Commission.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Danish Energy Regulatory Authority (2015). 2015 National Report to the European Commission—Denmark.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Building (2012). Energy Policy Report 2012.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    de Joode, J., Jansen, J. C., van der Welle, A. J., & Scheepers, M. J. J. (2009). Increasing penetration of renewable and distributed electricity generation and the need for different network regulation. Energy Policy, 37(8), 2907–2915.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    de Joode J., van der Welle A. and Jansen J. (2010), Distributed generation and the regulation of distribution networks.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Deloitte (2016a). European energy market reform—country profile: Spain.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Deloitte (2016b). European energy market reform—Country profile: Belgium.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Dondi, P., Bayoumi, D., Haederli, C., Julian, D., & Suter, M. (2002). Network integration of distributed power generation. Journal of Power Sources, 106, 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    E-Bridge, OFFIS and Institute für Elektrische Anlagen und Energiewirtschaft (2014). Moderne Verteilernetze für Deutschland, Study for the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, Management Summary.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Eclareon (2011), Integration of electricity from renewables to the electricity grid and to the electricity market-RES-Integration: Austria,
  31. 31.
    Enerdata (2013). Smart grids and network regulation: the regulatory framework is still not in place, Webinar of the Clean Energy Solutions Center.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Energie-Control Austria (2014). Market report 2014—National report to the European Commission.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Energy Regulators Regional Association (ERRA) (2013). Regulatory practices supporting deployment of renewable generators through enhanced network connection, ERRA Issue Paper.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Eurelectric (2014). Power distribution in Europe.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    EurObserv'ER (2013) "The state of renewable energies in Europe", 13th EurObserv'ER ReportGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    European Commission (2010). State aid: Commission approves aid for new 400 MW thermal power plant in Latvia, .
  37. 37.
    European Commission (2013). Member States’ energy dependence: an indicator-based assessment, European Economy Occasional Paper.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    European Commission (2014). Country reports: progress towards completing the internal energy market, Commission staff working document.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    European Commission (2016). Clean energy for All Europeans—unlocking Europe’s growth potential. Press release IP/16/4009, Brussels, November 2016.
  40. 40.
    European Parliament (2010). "Decentralized energy systems".Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    EY (2015). Mapping power and utilities regulation in Europe.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Gangale F., Vasiljevska J., Covrig C.F., Mengolini A. et Fulli G. (2017). Smart grid projects outlook 2017, JRC Science for Policy Report of the European Commission.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
  44. 44.
    Hansson M. and Carlsson F. (2014). The potential of renewable energy in the Swedish distribution networks: a case study in southern Sweden.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Happel T. (2009). Belgium’s energy market, U.S. Commercial Service.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Hungarian National Regulatory Authority (2014). Report on the activities of the Hungarian Energy and Public Utility Regulatory Authority in 2013.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    International Energy Agency (2011a). Methodology used to calculate T&D investments.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    International Energy Agency (2011b), Technology Roadmap: smart grids.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    International Energy Agency (2011c). World Energy Outlook.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    International Energy Agency (2015). Feed-in tariffs (FITs)forelectricity from renewables-Bulgaria,
  51. 51.
    International Energy Agency (2016). World energy investment 2016.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
  53. 53.
    Jaehnert, S., Wolfgang, O., Farahmand, H., Völler, S., & Huertas-Hernando, D. (2013). Transmission expansion planning in northern Europe in 2030—methodology and analyses. Energy Policy, 61, 125–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Jain, A. K. (2010). Data clustering: 50 years beyond K-means. Pattern Recognition Letters, 31, 651–666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Jarventausta P, Verho P., Partanen J. and Kronman D. (2011). Finnish smart grids—a migration from version one to the next generation, 21st International Conference on Electricity Distribution, Paper 1000.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Kema LDA (2011). Study on the impact of distributed generation on the national electricity system, Paper submitted to Entidade Reguladora dos Serviços Energéticos (ERSE).Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Ketterer, J. C. (2014). The impact of wind power generation on the electricity price in Germany. Energy Economics, 44, 270–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Kunz, F. (2013). Improving congestion management: how to facilitate the integration of renewable generation in Germany. Energy Journal, 34(4), 55–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Lehtonen, M., & Nye, S. (2009). History of electricity network control and distributed generation in the UK and Western Denmark. Energy Policy, 37(6), 2338–2345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Martin J. (2009). Distributed vs. centralized electricity generation: Are we witnessing a change of paradigm?Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    McDonald M. (2003). Renewable network impact study. Annex 4: Intermittency literature survey, The Carbon trust and the Department of Trade and Industry, - roadmap-november-2003/.
  62. 62.
    McDonald, J. (2008). Adaptive intelligent power systems: active distribution networks. Energy Policy, 36(12), 4346–4351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Mendez Quezada, V., Rivier Abbad, J., & Gomez San Roman, T. (2006). Assessment of energy distribution losses for increasing penetration of distributed generation. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Transactions on Power Systems, 21(2), 533–540.Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Ministry of the Environment of the Republic of Latvia (2006) Report of the Republic of Latvia on Demonstrable Progress under the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Miri-Larimi S.M., Haghifam M.-R. and Jalilzadeh E. (2012). Optimal sitting and sizing of renewable energy resources in distribution network with bi-level optimization, CIRED Workshop.Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Morales Pedraza J. (2015). Electrical energy generation in Europe: The current and future role of conventional energy sources in the regional generation of electricity. Springer.Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Morris C. and Pehnt M. (2014). Energy transition: the German EnergieWende, Heinrich Boll Stiftung.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    Nijhuis, M., Gibescu, M., & Cobben, J. F. G. (2015). Assessment of the impacts of the renewable energy and ICT driven energy transition on distribution networks. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 52, 100–1014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Nijhuis, M., Gibescu, M., & Cobben, J. F. G. (2017). Analysis of reflectivity & predictability of electricity network tariff structures for household consumers. Energy Policy, 109, 631–641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Northeast Group (2016). Germany smart grid: market forecasts (2016–2026).Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Observatoire des Energies Renouvelables (Observ’ER) en collaboration avec EDF et la Fondation Energie pour le monde (2013). La production d’électricité d’origine renouvelable : détails par région et par pays quinzième inventaire.Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    Ofgem (2014), Community energy grid connections—working group report to the Secretary of State,
  73. 73.
    Ofgem (2015). Regional differences in network charges.Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    Ofgem (2016). Renewables obligation - Annual Report 2015–2016.Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    Ölz S., Sims R. and Kirchner N. (2007). Contribution of renewables to energy security, International Energy Agency.Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Paraschiv, F., Erni, D., & Pietsch, R. (2014). The impact of renewable energies on EEX day-ahead electricity prices. Energy Policy, 73, 196–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. 77.
    Parr M. (2015). Networks costs and renewables: a Euro view, Transmission & Distribution Magazine, - renewables/network-costs-renewables-euro-view.
  78. 78.
    Poblocka A., Tallat-Kelpsaite J., Spitzley JB, Covarrubias Sieber M., Bauknecht D. (2011), Integration of electricity from renewable to the electricity grid and to the electricity market - RES-integration: National report Lithuania.Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Regional Center for Energy Policy Research & Danube Region Strategy Energy (2014). Smart grids in the Danube Region countries.Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    REKK (2013). Regulatory practices supporting deployment of renewable generators through enhanced network connection, ERRA and NARUC joint paper.Google Scholar
  81. 81.
    RES Legal (2017). Legal sources on renewable energy,
  82. 82.
    Rintamäki, T., Siddiqui, A. S., & Salo, A. (2017). Does renewable energy generation decrease the volatility of electricity prices? An analysis of Denmark and Germany. Energy Economics, 62, 270–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. 83.
    Robinson D. (2013). Pulling the plug on renewable power in Spain, The Oxford institute for energy studies - University of Oxford, Oxford energy comment.Google Scholar
  84. 84.
    Ruggiero, S., Varho, V., & Rikkonen, P. (2015). Transition to distributed energy generation in Finland: prospects and barriers. Energy Policy, 86, 433–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. 85.
    Samad T. and Annaswamy A. (2011). The impact of control technology, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.Google Scholar
  86. 86.
    Shaw, R., Attree, M., & Jackson, T. (2010). Developing electricity distribution networks and their regulation to support sustainable energy. Energy Policy, 38(10), 5927–5937.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. 87.
    Simkus A. (2012). Reshaping energy sector in the Baltics: towards energy independence, Lawin.Google Scholar
  88. 88.
    Slingerland S., Rothengatter N., Van Der Veen R., Bolscher H. and Rademaekers K. (2015). The balance of power—flexibility options for the Dutch electricity market, Triple Group.Google Scholar
  89. 89.
    St. John J. (2012). Report: German utilities don’t want to spend on smart grid, - utilities-dont-want-to-spend-on-smart-grid.
  90. 90.
    Swider, D. J., Beurskens, L., Davidson, S., Twidell, J., Pyrko, J., Pruggler, W., Auer, H., Vertin, K., & Skema, R. (2008). Conditions and costs for renewables electricity grid connection: examples in Europe. Renewable Energy, 33, 1832–1842.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. 91.
    Targosz R. (2008). Reducing electricity network losses. .
  92. 92.
    Van Nuffel L., Rademaekers K., Yearwood J. and Graichen V. (2017). European energy industry investments, directorate general for internal policies of the European Parliament, Policy Department A: Economic and Scientific Policy.Google Scholar
  93. 93.
    Vilchez E., Stenzel J. (2013). Impact of renewable energy generation technologies on the power quality of the electrical power systems, CIRED 22nd International Conference on Electricity Distribution.Google Scholar
  94. 94.
    VTT (2009). Design and operation of power systems with large amounts of wind power, .
  95. 95.
    Wang L. (2008). Integration of renewable energy sources: reliability-constrained power system planning and operations.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Darius Corbier
    • 1
  • Frédéric Gonand
    • 1
  • Marie Bessec
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Université Paris-Dauphine, Université PSL, LEDa, CGEMPParisFrance

Personalised recommendations