Why a closed distribution system can make it easier to arrange the connection of your wind farm to the electricity grid


Windturbines op zee gecombineerd met floating solar

The energy transition is proceeding at full throttle in the Netherlands. The initiatives for the generation of sustainable energy are becoming increasingly more extensive and often also more complex as a result. We simply applaud that increase in scope, because it can accelerate the energy transition. Fortunately, we are also able to manage the complexity for our clients.

Windplan Groen is a fine example of the increase in scale and complexity. This plan constitutes part of the overall Flevoland Wind Energy Regional Plan [Regioplan Windenergie in Flevoland] and covers a total of 86 new wind turbines divided into 11 wind farms.

In order to supply the green power which those wind farms generate to the electricity grid, every wind farm normally requires their own connection to the grid. In accordance with the law, the grid operator has a duty to honour applications from project owners or initiators. However, in the case of Windplan Groen the grid operator has only made one connection available for the combined project incorporating the 11 wind farms. We have seen that such situations are occurring more frequently and, as such, this is a typical example of growing complexity.

An interesting solution for this challenge is the development of a closed distribution system constituting part of a sustainable energy project. This is possible in the case of both a wind and a solar farm. In this article you will discover how this has worked in the case of Windplan Groen and what Ventolines did for the project owners in this respect.

What is a closed distribution system?
Before we consider the solution which worked for Windplan Groen, we describe what a closed distribution system is an and what legal obligations it entails.

We define a closed distribution system (CDS) as a private electricity network that is located within a delineated area, which contains no more than 500 connections and to which no households are connected.

In accordance with the law (enforced by the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), the owner of an electricity network is required to designate a (regional) grid operator. This is required because of the expertise and experience which is required to operate an electricity network and to ensure free access to it. The ACM may grant an exemption in this respect if the owner of the closed distribution system can show that it is able to comply with the conditions itself. For example, they may be conditions governing disaster and emergency planning, and guaranteeing the stability of a high-voltage network.

Windplan Groen scenario
Windplan Groen is a project undertaken by the Flevoland provincial council together with the municipalities of Dronten and Lelystad for the purposes of contributing to the government’s target of generating renewable energy accounting for 16% in 2023. In the case of this development we were faced with the challenge of working with a single connection from the grid operator for the entire project. As such, it became necessary to combine the energy supply before the network connection.

A closed distribution system can provide a solution in such a case. A transformer station is required as an intermediary step in order to distribute the electricity from all of the wind farms to the existing high-voltage network. Such a transformer station gathers the energy supply and converts it into the appropriate voltage, so as to be able to connect it to the high-voltage grid operator. In addition, the transformer station performs the function of monitoring and securing the CDS network.
Eventually, eight of the 11 wind farms of Windplan Groen decided to connect to the Closed Distribution System Groen.

In the Windplan Groen situation the challenge lays in incorporating this additional step into the project plan. This integration presented us with the following three separate ordeals:

  • the construction of the closed distribution system needed to be started on time for the purposes of implementing the entire plan. This is because the green light would only be given for the funding and the ultimate construction of the wind farms to be connected, once the connection to the grid was guaranteed;
  • in the case of Windplan Groen the closed distribution system involved an additional dimension when it came to making arrangements concerning the allocation of risks to the individual shareholders in the technical, financial, tax and legal fields.
  • Apart from the eight Windplan Groen wind farms, a solar farm was also connected to the closed distribution system to supply the electricity that was generated to the national grid. This had the added advantage that the capacity of the CDS was more fully utilised, because wind and sun often complement each other.

Throughout the entire process Ventolines was responsible for coming up with solutions for matters concerning the allocation and management of the income from and costs of the closed distribution system, determining the location of the substation and making arrangements for what needed to occur in the unlikely event that a connecting party were to disappear. In addition, during the subsequent stages Ventolines helped with a variety of matters, such as technical calculations, entering into contracts with connecting parties, suppliers and contractors, applying for permits and licences, financing, project management and ultimately the construction itself.

The Closed Distribution System Groen (GDG in Dutch) was officially put into service on 10 March 2023. Ventolines is proud of the various ways in which it was able to contribute to the development and construction of the GDG. The common interests of the various initiators were always held paramount in this respect.

How can Ventolines help you decide on a closed distribution system?
The growing complexity of sustainable projects because of a larger number of participants demands a more comprehensive approach and requires a variety of practical solutions. Ventolines has a great deal of experience of this. We notice that our clients appreciate the fact that we use our knowledge and expertise to assist them from the first step until handover, thereby relieving them of any concerns.

We will gladly help incorporate a closed distribution system within your sustainable project by performing the following activities:

Do you think that a closed distribution system could also be a solution for the implementation of your project and to connect it to the grid? Whether a wind or solar farm is involved, we look forward to sharing our expertise with you to take your project further. Contact Rens Savenije for a no-obligation introductory meeting.

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