About the project

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Smart Grids – the vision of the electricity networks of the future

The countries of the European Community strongly support the growth of renewable energy sources for better environmental protection, for sustainable energy supply through saving fossil primary energy and to lower the dependency on imports of primary energy. In the next years more and more Gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar energy will be fed into the electricity networks. Today's networks are not dimensioned for this. Furthermore, a large number of small power producers in the household and the charging of millions of electro-mobiles pose new challenges for the electricity networks.

All these challenges can only be met by Smart Grids. The problem is that each consumer can demand electricity whenever it is desired. In this way a permanent change of demand happens with a peak in Germany of about 80 GW in day time and a weak load of about 30 GW in the night. At each moment, electricity should be produced in accordance with the demand. But wind and solar power plants feed in accordingly their availability. They cannot be controlled like a traditional power station. To solve these problems a Smart Grid is defined as follows (see www.smartgrids.eu ):

A SmartGrid is an electricity network that can intelligently integrate the actions of all users connected to it - generators, consumers and those that do both - in order to efficiently deliver sustainable, economic and secure electricity supplies.

Smart Grids require a broad linking of its users via advanced information and communication technologies to achieve an intelligent coordination and market participation. In the distribution level through such linking can be achieved:

  • Offering variable tariffs following the energy prices on the market. Energy prices are high at times of heavy demand and they are lower in weak load time. The consumer can monitor his demand and the related costs. This gives him an incentive to move the heavy demand of non-time critical functions like washer, dryer or air conditioner into the time with lower tariff – maybe by using the home automation technologies. Consequently, the consumer participates in the energy market and he can help to decrease the peak load.

  • A large number of small power producers, storage and controllable loads (industry) can be coordinated in such a way that their overall generation will follow a schedule, that fluctuations of wind power may be compensated and that a virtual power plant is build which operates with behaviors like a traditional power plant.

  • Through automation and remote control it will be possible to remotely switch MV (medium voltage) terminals in the case of disturbances with supply interruption within minutes for supply recovery. The former manual switching took in the average 1 hour. In this way the possible supply interruptions can be shorted significantly.

Smart Grids are needed to meet the challenges of the future. However, they offer benefits for all grid users like consumers, producers, network operators and traders as well.