In the period 2024-2033, Distribuție Oltenia proposes to carry out 39 projects with a total value of 435 million euro with the help of European funds. Investments are needed to meet the new wave of green investment. “If in 2022 we had 5,561 prosumers, this year we already have, in the first 4 months of the current year, over 4,600 prosumers. Regarding the large energy production projects carried out in the Oltenia Distribution area, there are requests for approximately 5,000 MW,” says Eugen Butoarcă, CEO of Oltenia Distribution, in an exclusive interview with Energynomics.
What is the growth rate of the prosumer segment? What are your predictions for this segment, for 2023? What about medium and large wind and solar projects? How do you see storage evolving?
The pace of growth of prosumers in the Oltenia Distribution area is accelerating. If in 2019 we had 28 prosumers connected, in 2020 the number increased to 607 prosumers, in 2021 we had 2,217 prosumers. If in 2022 we had 5,561 prosumers, this year we already have, in the first 4 months of the current year, over 4,600 prosumers.
In total, until May 2023, we register more than 13,000 prosumers, with 153 MW of installed power, which means an average of 1,200 connected prosumers per month.
We estimate that starting in July, the number of prosumers will increase, reaching 1,800-2,000 per month. The increase is determined by the start of the new financing within the “Casa Verde” program, where there will be approximately 10,000 prosumers who will benefit from subsidizing investments in production facilities in our operational area.
Concerning large energy production projects in the Distribuție Oltenia area, there are requests for about 5,000 MW. These projects are at different stages of the connection process: technical connection approvals are given, connection contracts are signed, test requests are made, a study of solution is approved, or the project is put into operation.
Regarding energy storage, until now, the requests are not significant. These only came from users who were required to have storage batteries through various funding programs (PNRR, ElectricUp).
What is the development rate of smart metering?
We have an SMI implementation timetable approved by the regulator until 2027. This plan will be 100% met. In 2022, the semiconductor crisis was and is still being felt in most smart meter factories. Most distribution operators experience delays in the smart meter supply chain. Delays in the installation of SMART meters from the year 2022 are planned to be recovered in the next period. The increase in the number of new connections to the grid as well as the increase in the number of prosumers has led us to review our priorities and review the stock of meters as deliveries have been delayed. We also had to launch new public tender procedures to look for other suppliers of such equipment. We propose that at the end of 2033 we will have a smart metering system in which all the meters related to the places of consumption in Argeș, Dolj, Gorj, Mehedinți, Olt, Teleorman and Vâlcea counties will be integrated.
This year we plan to install at least 35,000 smart meters.
How have the SAIDI and SAIFI network quality indicators evolved over the past year?
We directly aim at the reduction of SAIDI-SAIFI and carry out investments in the network in this sense, in the last 10 years we have registered a positive evolution of the electricity quality indicators. This year we reduced the SAIFI indicator by 13% and the SAIDI by 11% compared to 2022. Also, the reduction targets set for this year for the unplanned interruption indicators are 10% lower than those in 2022.
How do you personally see the energy year 2023 – which will be the main trends?
I believe that 2023 is the year of green energy, sustainability and activities to ensure a better and cleaner future. From the perspective of Oltenia Distribution, I consider it a year of implementations of advanced distribution management systems, assets and other digital systems that will improve the quality of electricity delivery and network flexibility, all based on user needs.
In addition, we are a responsible company that supports prosumers and energy producers in their efforts to connect to the grid. We participate through our own actions and investments and produce green energy ourselves to offset the company’s own electricity consumption.
Our current plans include the deployment of PV plants in substations with an installed capacity between 20 kW and 150 kW, up to an estimated total capacity of 3.7 MW.
In 2023, we estimate an investment of up to 10 million lei and the installation of over 2,900 photovoltaic panels on approximately 21,400 square meters. In 2024, we aim to install approximately 1.7 MW in photovoltaic plants with an estimated cost of 10 million lei.
In the first stage we expect a production of approximately 3,900 MWh/year, which represents 80% of the own consumption of the transformation stations where the photovoltaic plants are installed, so an 80% reduction in the cost of purchasing energy for own technological consumption.
We also believe that 2023 will be the first transition year regarding the mass implementation of car charging points, simultaneously with the network connection of production units from renewable sources. As we mentioned before, in the coming period, it will be necessary to resize the distribution network to absorb this impact, as well as automatic systems for its management.
What are the main pillars of the new Oltenia Energy Distribution Development Plan for the period 2024-2033? What are the main investments? What percentage and volume of European funds do you expect to use?
For us, the Development Plan for the next 10 years is a tool that we use in our activity. The Oltenia Energy Distribution strategy remains that of ensuring the supply of electricity to our consumers at high-quality standards, regardless of the challenges in the sector, those generated by the regional, social and legislative context. The main pillars of the Oltenia Distribution Development Plan for the next 10 years, in accordance with the European and National energy strategy, are: improving the quality of the electricity distribution service provided to users of the electricity distribution network (RED); increasing energy efficiency in internal processes and operational costs; ensuring cyber security; the transition to a smart network by implementing digital management systems such as: smart metering system SMI – MDM & MDC (Meter Data Management System & Metering Data Collection), ADMS (advanced distribution management system) – SCADA, Self-healing, system for monitoring the quality of electricity, GIS (Geographic Information System of the DEO distribution network); the integration of all Oltenia Distribution users in the Intelligent Metering System by 31.12.2033; alignment with the transition to a low-carbon economy – Net Zero by 2040; supporting the connection programs of prosumers and producers of energy from renewable resources, as well as the connection of end users; implementing congestion management systems and making RED more flexible; expansions/ electrifications, network strengthening upstream of the connection point and digitization of processes and automation of distribution activity.
From the point of view of investments, in the next 10 years we aim at the following directions: reducing technological losses and improving energy efficiency; improving the continuity indicators in the electricity supply to users and the obligations imposed by the primary and secondary legislation (extensions and electrification of the distribution network, electricity supply to residential complexes, creating connection conditions for users through the appropriate sizing of the distribution network, power quality monitoring).
Regarding access to non-reimbursable funds, in the period 2024-2033, Distribuție Oltenia proposes to carry out 39 projects totaling a total value of 435 million euro.
This interview first appeared in the printed edition of Energynomics Magazine, issued in June 2023.
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