First Dutch flex contract under new Grid Code for Windpark Noordpolder

Grid operator Stedin, sustainable energy cooperative Zeeuwind and Gabri Hoek BV have signed a ‘congestion management contract’ for Windpark Noordpolder. It is the very first effective contract in the Netherlands for flexible electricity capacity in accordance with the new Electricity Grid Code.

With the contract, structural congestion on the electricity grid can be avoided and potentially 10 megawatts of extra space is created on the local electricity grid of Tholen and Schouwen-Duiveland, which contributes to the security of supply until the structural grid expansion is realized in 2027. Wind farm Noordpolder (from 2010, with 4 Enercon E82 wind turbines and 9.2 MW capacity) near Sint Maartensdijk receives compensation for the flexibility services provided.

The new Grid Code offers grid operators options to conclude flex contracts for congestion management; the more efficient use of space on the electricity grid, in this case for the North Ring. Congestion management means that parties with flexible capacity temporarily reduce their production during peak times or use more electricity. There is actual congestion – traffic jams on the electricity grid – for only a few hours per year, so flexible power is required.

In addition to the Noordring, Stedin is also re-investigating congestion management in Middelharnis and the Dordtse Kil. It is being investigated whether flexible electricity capacity can also be used there as a solution for the overcrowded grids. The results are expected in the coming months.

Contribution to environment

In October 2020, Stedin announced congestion at Tholen and Schouwen-Duiveland for the return supply of sustainably generated electricity by large-scale consumers. Thanks to the cooperation of Zeeuwind, as co-owner of Windpark Noordpolder, 10 MW of new space will be created on the grid. This transport capacity is necessary to facilitate approximately 2,500 households in the coming years to install solar panels on their roofs. With every megawatt hour (MWh) that Zeeuwind regulates, there is room on the grid for 10 MWh of new sustainably generated electricity.

Call for more flexible power

Although Zeeuwind and Hoek fill in a substantial part of the flexible capacity sought with this contract, Stedin believes it still needs 20 MW of additional capacity. This is to facilitate the expected growth of solar on the roof initiatives among small consumers. Stedin therefore expressly calls on the parties to offer flexible capacity, so that large-scale customers on the waiting list can subsequently also receive transmission capacity on the grid. Not only in Zeeland, but also in the other congestion areas for input, including Dortse Kil and Middelharnis.

Socially responsible cooperation

Stedin has drawn up two standard contracts with agreements on preconditions and fees. A capacity limitation contract, with which the flex requirement is coordinated a day in advance, and a redispatch contract, with which flex requirements can be adjusted on the day itself. In both cases, providers of flexible capacity are compensated for the loss of ‘sustainable energy turnover’ on the basis of the current energy price; so they do not lose out financially.

In order for the deployment of flexible electricity capacity to succeed, it is essential that parties cooperate in a socially responsible manner. Because the more expensive Stedin has to purchase the flexibility, the less new transmission capacity can be released because the network operator’s (financial) resources are limited. Creating as much space as possible on the grid for new customers and sustainable initiatives is therefore only possible if potential providers do not want to make extra profit. The public interest must come first, according to Stedin.

Image source: Zeewind

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