Smart Grids on the Distribution Level – Hype or Vision?

The challenging 20-20-20-agenda of the European Union will strongly and sustainable influence the Energy market in Europe during the next decade. Especially the goal to ”generate 20% of the overall energy consumption in Europe from renewable sources” can only be reached, if the electricity consumption is increased significantly (e.g. by electric vehicles or heat pumps) and the higher consumption is generated substantially by renewable sources. Leading European Utilities expect that the mean electricity consumption of a standard household will increase from about 4.000 kWh per year today up to 12.000 – 15.000 kWh in 2020. Furthermore load peaks during the year will be much more distinct since rapidly changing electricity prices will influence customer’s consumption behavior significantly and much more small “green” generation will feed directly into the distribution level.

Scope of the Working Group

What does all this mean for the electricity distribution grids?
If the electricity consumption and the number of decentralized generators increases dramatically, the additional need for capacity can be solved in two possible ways: The first –simple but very expensive- way is to increase capacity by doubling or tripling existing cables, transformers etc. especially on Low- and Medium-Voltage level. The second –intelligent- way is to utilize today’s grid capacity more efficiently by installing control intelligence in those voltage levels or in other words to establish “Smart Grids”.
Therefore ”Smart Grids“ are the main subject of today’s discussion about distribution grids in the future. There is a real hype regarding this topic, but in a quite unstructured and unsorted way. Since we have seen many hypes (like fuel cells, power line communication and so on) come and gone in the distribution grid business in the past the question to answer is, whether and how smart technologies will influence the distribution grids sustainable (on long term ) or whether they are just another hype forgotten in ten years.

Convener :
Zdrallek Markus, Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Germany

Members :            
Brunner Helfried, AIT, Austria
Calone Roberto, Enel Distribuzione, Italy
Chollot Yves, Schneider Electric, France
Englert Heiko, Siemens AG, Germany
Kronman Dick, ABB, Finland
Mallet Pierre, ERDF, France
Mota Pinto Carlos, EDP Distribuição - Energia, S.A., Portugal
Müller Holger, Siemens AG, Germany
Openshaw Dave, EDF Energy, United Kingdom
Partanen Jarmo, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland
Pilo Fabrizio, University of Cagliari, Italy

Click here to download the final report of the CIRED WG on Smart Grids