Dutch business regulation agency rules network operators lacking capacity are allowed to deny grid-connection


Dutch power and gas provider Liander – which serves the provinces of Gelderland and Noord-Holland and parts of Flevoland, Friesland and Zuid-Holland – has revealed that in late December the Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) established that the first-come, first-served principle applied by the country's grid operators in selecting which power projects may be connected is the correct approach in the event of a shortage of transmission on the electricity grid.

The decision was taken to resolve a legal dispute between Liander and an agricultural entrepreneur that was denied grid access due to a lack of capacity in the Flevoland province in the central Netherlands, where the planned solar power generator was planned to be located. Flevoland is one of the Dutch regions with stronger grid congestion. Currently, new applications for transmission capacity are placed on a waiting list when all capacity in a given area has been allocated.

According to ACM, Liander demonstrated that it had no transport capacity for the agricultural entrepreneur, although the denial of grid connection was insufficiently explained at the time of the complaint. “This is an important statement by ACM about the way in which regional network operators should act in the event of a shortage of transmission in the electricity network,” said Huibert Baud, Liander's strategy and innovation manager.

In November, Netbeheer Nederland, the Dutch association of grid operators and electricity and gas providers, and the Dutch renewable energy associations De Nederlandse Vereniging Duurzame Energie (NVDE) and HollandSolar signed a preliminary agreement to ensure a faster and cheaper grid-connection of large-scale solar power plants to the network. PV plant operators will be able to connect their projects at 70% of their capacity and, in turn, they will be allowed to connect them without having to wait for more grid availability.

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Furthermore, in May, the Dutch government decided that grid operators are not obliged to compensate the owners of solar rooftops whose arrays are disconnected due to problems with grid capacity and voltage quality.

Grid capacity issues are dogging the provinces of Gelderland and Noord-Holland and parts of Flevoland, Friesland and Zuid-Holland as well as areas in Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel, in the northeast of the country. A year ago, Liander said it expected strong PV growth in the next five years, and is taking measures to ensure it will be sustainable. “A scenario that we are considering is that over the next five years the capacity of solar energy in Liander's service area will grow to 6 GW, which is six times more than that currently connected to the grid,” said the utility at the time.

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