In the energy industry, dispatch refers to the scheduling of power plants. It is the process by which the transmission system operators decide which power plants and generation facilities are used to cover the current electricity demand. The aim is to optimize costs and efficiency while at the same time ensuring security of supply. On the other hand, there is redispatch, a procedure for adjusting electricity generation at short notice in order to avoid or eliminate bottlenecks in the electricity grid.
In Germany, power plant operators are generally obliged to participate in redispatch if their installed capacity is greater than 10 MW and they are connected to the grid. They must inform transmission system operators of the capacities they are planning for the following day through their power plant, for example whether they are operating at partial or full load. The planned energy production is determined for each quarter of an hour of the following day.

The dispatch process involves monitoring grid stability and taking into account supply and demand on the electricity market. Dispatch planning decisions are usually made on the basis of short-term forecasts that take into account the expected demand for electricity and the available capacities of power plants and generation facilities.

Dispatch is therefore an important part of the energy management system and has a direct impact on electricity prices and the security of the electricity supply.

‍What isthe function of Dispatch?

Dispatch has the function of planning and optimizing the use of power plants to generate electricity in order to ensure a reliable and cost-efficient power supply. In this process, the power generation of the power plants in the grid is controlled in such a way that the demand for electricity is covered at all times and the grid remains stable. To this end, information on power consumption and the available capacities of the power generators is collected and analyzed in real time. In concrete terms, dispatch is about organizing power plant operations in such a way that the required amount of electricity can be provided at all times while minimizing the costs of operating the power plants.

This is done by taking into account various factors such as the demand for electricity, available energy sources, operating costs, grid connection and environmental constraints. Based on this information, a decision is made as to which power plants must produce how much electricity in order to maintain the balance in the grid.  

Dispatch plays an important role in securing the energy supply and the stability of the power grid. Without this central control and monitoring, overloads in the network can occur, but also undersupply, with possible power outages and other disruptions as a consequence.

The role of renewables in dispatch

Renewable energies play an important role in dispatch because their variable availability and feed-in to the power grid make them a particular challenge for power plant dispatch, thus increasing its complexity. Renewable energy feed-in is highly volatile and difficult to predict. Therefore, dispatch planning must take into account various factors such as weather forecasts, power source availability, scheduled maintenance, and demand for power.
Renewable energy sources are preferred in dispatch planning because they have a lower variable operating cost compared to fossil-fueled power plants, making them more economical. They also make an important contribution to reducing CO2 emissions and achieving climate targets.