Network operation hierarchies in a transcontinental electricity system

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In operating and planning an intercontinental electricity system consisting of vertically unbundled participants, there are multiple interfaces across which activity must be co-ordinated in order to ensure the safe and efficient dispatch (acting downwards through the hierarchy) of energy between consumers and generators, while utilising markets between levels of the hierarchy to procure services (acting upwards through the hierarchy) at the minimum cost to end consumers. Growing across these interfaces is an increasing amount of variable generation in the form of renewable energy sources, decentralised generation in the form of distributed and community/local energy, storage participation and demand-side response technologies. This greatly increases the complexity of the optimum dispatch problem where, at the European level, a single system operator with total system visibility does not exist. While the operation of a trans-continental network via lateral market-driven mechanisms may satisfy broad economic goals, this mode of legislated cooperation between vertical market hierarchies should realise efficient and secure operation at minimum cost throughout the hierarchy, and permit the benefits of increasing interconnection to both utilise the contributions of participants at all levels and scales, and increase competition and efficiency across the system.

The historical and proposed mechanisms for European market coupling are assessed in terms of the requirement for information by Transmission System Operators to realise efficient operation of coupled markets via interconnectors, and in particular this is assessed in terms of the future role that Distribution System Operators and distribution-connected participants might be able to play in realising the goals of the system as a whole.

As the depth of information transfer increases through the hierarchy, so the technological overheads of providing that data exchange increases, and so a pragmatic decision needs to be taken in terms of the optimum level of data management and scales of technologies provided for dispatch by network operators. This creates a large value to aggregators and Virtual Power Plants, and illustrates the need for management of the growing complexity in network hierarchical organisation, as decisions taken in high-level market coupling can affect the economic dispatch and revenue of participants at all levels, with similar impacts on commercial risk and network security.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2015
EventCIGRÉ Lund Symposium 2015 - Lund, Sweden
Duration: 26 May 201528 May 2015


ConferenceCIGRÉ Lund Symposium 2015


  • network operating systems
  • transcontinental electricity system
  • information transfer


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