Upgrading the current European electricity grid with smarter technologies is key to overcoming the infrastructure challenges presented by the EU’s energy and climate package, a foremost supplier of power generation technologies has recently announced.
In Brussels last week, GE Energy’s Keith Redfearn (responsible for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India)
explained that the EU has been edging towards deregulation of the electricity markets for the past ten years, but emphasis has been on ensuring the reliability and quality of energy supply, while renewables and transmission efficiency have been overlooked.
The EU’s triple commitment to reducing CO2 emissions by 20%, is too demanding for today’s grid, Redfearn argued. A ‘smart grid’, involving a combination of software and hardware allowing for more efficient power routing and enabling consumers to manage their demand, is an important part of the solution, he says.
Presently, “it will not be possible to add all the renewables to the grid, as it wasn’t built for this,” Redfearn stated. “Smart grids can take into account electricity flows from many different directions, which enables the integration of renewable energies.”
Moreover, tests in the US have shown that smart meters in homes can reduce domestic energy consumption by 10%, and as much as by 15% at peak times, while initial results from the UK show 8% savings, Redfearn added.
The EU plans to publish new proposals to improve the use of smart technologies to combat climate change in February, while smart grid technologies are thought to prove an important contributor to CO2 reduction plans. Many member states are facing an acute need to revamp their aging power grids, with the European Commission stating that market liberalisation provides an incentive to upgrade energy infrastructures.