vendredi 19 février 2010

Europe’s goals rely upon smart grid development

The EU has ambitious plans for more efficient energy usage across the continent that integrates renewable sources into a secure power grid that emits far less CO2. These goals, if they are to be reached by 2020, are heavily dependent on a successful smart grid deployment.

The smart grid will bring about a number of improvements to the power industry including the ability to include renewable sources. Consumers will have a far better handle on how they are using energy through the use of a smart meter or display unit and utilities will have much more visibility into the level of supply and demand with the networked smart grid architecture.

A true smart grid requires a number of information and communications technologies (ICT) that are to be combined with electrical infrastructure that was never designed to communicate bi-directionally in the first place. Once the new technology is fully in place, all facets of the power grid are able to communicate – from the point of generation to the point of consumption – and all points are able to work as efficiently as possible.

Before a massive smart grid rollout can occur, standardization must be developed. The European Commission wants Member States to develop minimum specifications for smart meters by the end of 2010, accompanied by a timetable for their introduction. The Commission believes that the smart grid can reduce carbon emissions by 15 percent by 2020 and that smart meters can reduce household energy bills by 10 percent.

It will take a Herculean effort to coordinate all the players involved – the power industry and vendors, communications industry, governments, and consumers – in order to capture all these benefits. The technology is available, for the most part, but nobody will make the significant smart grid investments unless proper incentives are in place.

“In terms of technology, 80-85 percent of what is needed already exists, although often as individual products that are not connected up to reap all the benefits,” said Keith Redfearn, general manager for GE Energy’s European transmission and distribution unit. “What’s important here is for government and regulators to ensure the right level of investment.”

Smart grid technology has been enthusiastically embraced throughout Europe. Enel began installing smart meters in Italy in 2001 in a project worth €2.5 billion – 31 million have been installed along with the underlying infrastructure needed to manage them remotely. The German E-Energy Project is coordinating the introduction of a half-dozen smart energy demonstration project. The UK wants all homes to have a smart meter installed by 2020 and France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Spain all plan to have their countries blanketed with the devices within a decade.

Sebastian Knab of Berlin’s European Center for Information and Communication Technologies says that interest in his work has increased dramatically. “Lots of different stakeholders are interested in smart grids because they see the benefits,” said Knab. “The problem is that no one has enough of the benefits to do all the investments. So they all need to work together.”

“The world of telecommunications and ICT is totally different from the utilities,” Knab continued. They really have problems working together, especially in innovation.”

Smart grid technologies are diverse in nature and their use will vary by country according to regional characteristics and priorities such as emissions reduction, security of the energy supply, energy efficiency, and available renewable energy sources. All implementations, however, will involve the transformation of a passive, centralized, and antiquated electrical system into a communicating, distributed, and dynamic smart grid.

For example, rather than firing up a mothballed coal-fired power plant in order to meet demand a smart grid would allow for the integration of renewable power. Giving consumers the ability to conserve energy will reduce the number of power plants that have to be built in the future.

“We are currently discussing across the value chain on these issues,” said Gunnar Lorenz, head of Eurelectric’s networks division. “The ICT and telecoms industries are already quite active. More could be done, but it is clear that not all actors have the same interests.”

Big changes come with big costs, of course. Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, has said that £200 billion in investment may be required over the next decade if Britain is to reach its goals. Ofgem also expressed concerns over encouraging these investments because they involve new technologies.

Ofgem also highlighted the need for consumers to have the ability to monitor their consumption habits, in detail, but there are hurdles that must be overcome involving the integration of renewable energy, the unstable price of CO2 trading, lack of awareness, shifting towards distributed generation, and other regulatory issues.

“It is important to have high level strategy from government and regulation throughout the electricity sector but regulators need a more strategic and holistic view,” said Redfearn. “That has not been the case to date.”

Source :, 19/02/10

Aucun commentaire:

Enregistrer un commentaire