What are network codes and reactive power compensation.
Interview with Bartosz Giza, Chief of Designing at P&Q
What exactly are grid codes? Is Poland leading their implementation or is it in the tail of the peloton? What does it look like abroad?
This question is complex. The Grid codes were developed and implemented to define an equal technical and formal framework for all entities connected to the electricity grid. Clear regulations guarantee connected entities the same set of technical requirements and treatment, which is particularly important as, in practice, it is the Distribution System Operator (DSO) or Transmission System Operator (TSO) who decides who can be connected to the grid. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell who the leader is straightforwardly, but Poland is certainly not in the tail of the run. I assume, however, that all EU members have adjusted their regulations exactly as Poland has, so as to properly implement Regulation 2016/631.
What are the practical implications of Grid codes with regards to a project?
There were guidelines and requirements that had to be implemented. For more advanced projects, the original assumptions had to be analyzed and adjustments were made (e.g., in terms of compensation devices). Newer projects are already being developed from the beginning in accordance with the NC RfG Grid code so that the facility complies with its guidelines.
What exactly is reactive power compensation? How does the issue of compensation relate to Grid codes? Are those two sides of the same coin, or two different things?
Both, before and after the introduction of the NC RfG code, connected generation units has had to compensate the reactive power. Previously, the requirements in this regard were specified in the service connection requirements created on the basis of the Transmission Network Code (IRIESP) or the Distribution Network Operation Code (IRIESD). Currently, each connected generation unit has requirements imposed by the code in this regard and must meet them.
What are the risks of a project that does not meet the requirements of the codes, or does not have a properly executed reactive power compensation system?
If the requirements are not met, at any of the stages (EON, ION, FON), the power generation module will simply not receive an operation permit from the operator.
Does the wind turbine or inverter supplier help or hinder you from meeting the requirements of the network codes?
Both the turbine supplier and the inverter supplier are important participants in the process of building and commissioning a power generation unit. Sometimes, for example, due to language barriers or other time zones, it is extremely difficult to engage in technical as well as economic dialogue with them. However, thanks to modern technology, the Internet, but also our communication skills, this is feasible, and more wind and solar power plants are being commissioned and obtaining operation permits.
Do you work with all turbine or inverter suppliers the same way, or are there “better” and “worse” ones?
There are no better or worse suppliers. It all depends on the contracts and the people running the projects. By building the right relationships and discussing project issues on an ongoing basis, you can see each project through to completion.
What are key actors of a RES project in terms of meeting network and compensation requirements? Who has what role and what is their responsibility?
The main figures in any RES project are the Investor, the Contract Engineer, the General Contractor, and the technology supplier (wind turbines, panels and inverters, etc.). The General Contractor together with the Contract Engineer are responsible for the due design and construction of any power generation unit. Thanks to their knowledge, experience and professionalism, such facility can be properly planned, designed, and later built. The Investor, who finances the investment project and is responsible for appointing said participants in the process, cannot be left out of this puzzle either.
Are DSOs and TSOs partners or opponents?
DSOs as well as TSOs are in charge with the well-being of the networks under their management. By having dialogue with them that meet the appropriate technical level, meeting the requirements described in the connection conditions and the NC RfG code, we can consider them our partner. At the end of the day, after all, it’s all about ensuring that projects are built and operated safely, and that’s the purpose any DSO and TSO guidelines should serve.
What are the most common mistakes made in project implementation in terms of the above issues?
The biggest mistake is to ignore the provisions of the NC RfG code and the advice and guidance coming from the DSO, or TSO.
What was your biggest mistake in terms of network requirements and compensation?
For how your question is posed, I find it impossible to answer it directly. Each project involving the connection of a power generation module is a months-long, sometimes even years-long process, involving many people. Concepts, analyses, designs are reviewed by experienced engineers and authorized designers. Of course, a mistake can be made at any stage, but as a rule mistakes are found and quickly corrected without damage to the project.
How many RES projects have you participated in and in what roles have you participated in them?
I have been a RES project engineer, commissioning engineer, designer, and general designer. I have been part of teams that have connected and will connect a total of approx. 2.7 GW of RES power. I have been involved in about 40 RES projects, some of which have been producing green energy for a quite a few years; others, instead, are yet to be connected.