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Available Transfer Capacity vs. Offtake Capacity Data

Available Transfer Capacity vs. Offtake Capacity

Available Transfer Capacity (ATC) and Offtake Capacity are terms you may recognize within the context of electric grid infrastructure, renewable energy project development, and data center project siting. But what exactly do they mean, and why are they important?

In short, ATC refers to the amount of power that can be transferred THROUGH the electric grid without need to upgrade or modify the substation. On the flip side, Offtake Capacity is the amount of power that can be drawn FROM the grid for use. 

ATC is typically going to be the most important figure for developers of renewable energy projects that will ultimately generate power that returns to the electric grid. A developer looking to install a 100MW solar farm needs to access ATC data to determine whether the nearby substation is capable of transferring or handling 100MW of power, or whether doing so would require expensive fixes and upgrades.

Offtake Capacity is the more impactful figure for developers of large industrial projects such as data centers that require the use of massive amounts of available power without returning any to the grid. A developer may want to build a data center that is estimated to use 100MW of power. They would need access to Offtake Capacity data to determine whether or not a given substation is able to supply that power capacity for their installation.

Definition of Available Transfer Capacity (ATC)

available transfer capacity data

Available Transfer Capacity (ATC) is a crucial metric in the energy sector, representing the amount of power that can be reliably transferred through a transmission network or substation. Specifically, ATC is the difference between the total transfer capability and the existing commitments (like current loads and scheduled energy transfers) on a transmission path. In a practical sense, ATC is the amount of power that can be transferred through a substation without triggering the need to fix or upgrade the infrastructure.

Why is ATC Important?

For renewable energy developers, especially those working on utility-scale wind and solar projects, ATC is a key factor in the site selection process. Here’s why:

  1. Site Viability: Knowing the ATC of nearby substations helps determine whether the site can handle the additional power generated by new renewable energy projects.

  2. Cost-Effectiveness: Understanding ATC can prevent costly investments in infrastructure upgrades that would be necessary if the ATC were insufficient.

  3. Regulatory Compliance: Ensuring that a site has adequate ATC helps in meeting regulatory requirements and avoiding potential penalties.

How to Use ATC in Renewable Energy Development

  1. Preliminary Site Assessment

  2. Check the ATC of substations near potential project sites.

  3. Rule out locations where ATC is too low to handle the projected power output.

  4. Detailed Planning and Design

  5. Incorporate ATC data into your detailed project design phase.

  6. Plan for any necessary upgrades if the ATC is close to the required capacity.

  7. Operational Efficiency

  8. Continuously monitor ATC to ensure ongoing compliance and optimize power distribution.

Definition of Offtake Capacity

data center offtake capacity data

Offtake capacity refers to the amount of power that is authorized to be drawn from the electric grid for use in data centers and other large industrial projects. This capacity is crucial for ensuring that data centers have the necessary power to operate efficiently and meet their energy demands.

Key Factors Influencing Offtake Capacity

Several key factors influence the offtake capacity for data centers:

  1. Independent System Operators (ISOs) and Utility Companies: ISOs and utility companies are responsible for determining the offtake capacity. They assess the overall grid conditions and allocate power accordingly.

  2. Grid Conditions: The amount of power available for data centers can fluctuate based on current grid conditions. High demand periods or infrastructural constraints can impact the authorized offtake capacity.

  3. Demand Patterns: Historical and projected demand patterns play a significant role in setting the offtake capacity. Data centers with predictable energy consumption may receive more stable allocations.

  4. Infrastructure Upgrades: Enhancements to the electrical infrastructure can lead to increased offtake capacity. Utility companies may upgrade transmission lines, substations, and other grid components to support growing energy needs.

Why is Offtake Capacity Important for Data Center Developers?

Understanding offtake capacity is essential for data center developers for several reasons:

  1. Planning and Development: Knowing the authorized power limits helps in siting locations for data centers that can operate within the available capacity. This ensures efficient use of resources and prevents overloading the grid.

  2. Scalability: Data center developers can plan for future expansions by understanding the flexibility of the offtake capacity. This allows for scalable infrastructure that can grow with increasing power demands.

  3. Operational Efficiency: Ensuring sufficient power availability is crucial for maintaining the uptime and reliability of data centers. Offtake capacity directly affects the operational efficiency and performance of the facilities.

Accessing ATC & Offtake Capacity Data

The LandGate platform offers developers both Available Transfer Capacity (ATC) and Offtake Capacity data. To learn even more about how to access information about available power and transfer capacity, book a demo with our dedicated energy markets team.


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