Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Smart grid projects in Europe – interactive map

There are a considerable number of smart grid initiatives across Europe, but only this year has there been any attempt to make a full inventory of what’s going on, which has limited the ability to share project information and experiences. Now summary information from all the collected projects is available online via a new mapping tool. The map is the first comprehensive inventory of Smart Grid projects in Europe.

 

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The impetus came from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy (DG Ener) who asked the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) to investigate. The JRC Smart Electricity Systems Action launched a survey to collect smart grid experiences in Europe and support analysis on trends and developments in Smart Grids implementation.

The summary information is shown in the map, but there is also an analysis of projects in Smart Grid projects in Europe: lessons learned and current developments, co-authored by DG ENER and JRC. It includes detailed analyses of the smart grid landscape and assesses in which direction Europe is moving in the field of smart grids.

 

If you’re involved in smart grids the map is an interesting summary. However, one of the findings was that there is a need for improvements in data collection/exchange. These include a common definitions, terminology, categories and benchmarks. There is also a lack of quantitative data to perform cost-benefit
assessments.

But the JRC says it is working at developing a complete cost-benefit analysis for smart grids, pointing out that a structured approach has not yet been tested on a concrete case study. The EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute) has done the most advanced work in the area and the JRC is planning to adapt the EPRI methodology to the European context and is selecting case studies to test it.

Well, given the amount of money that’s going to be poured into smart grids across Europe in the coming years a good cost-benefit analysis is sorely needed. It would make interesting reading for the UK, for example. The National Audit Office (NAO), the UK government department that scrutinises public spending on behalf of Parliament, published a report in July that highlighted the uncertainties of consumer benefits in implementing smart meters, because of lack of evidence. The NAO believes the risk is compounded by potential cost increases, the challenges of delivering a fit-for-purpose and secure system and the risk that suppliers do not pass on all the savings to their customers. Another view would be useful.

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