Spanish multinational Iberdrola is set to expand its smart grid capabilities using a green loan the company has secured from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
A €550 million ($650.1 million) green loan from the EIB will be used to support the development, modernisation and digitalisation of electricity distribution networks in several Spanish regions.
For instance, i-DE, a subsidiary of Iberdrola will use part of the green loan to develop and implement its (2021-2023) €1.472 billion ($1.7 billion) grid modernisation and decarbonisation plan. The plan is expected to improve the electrification and digitalisation of the Spanish grid and help Spain move closer to its 2050 climate neutrality goals.
The plan will include measures to expand renewable energy capacity on the main grid as well as the reliability, efficiency, and security of the power grid.
This financing will contribute to achieving a threefold objective:
- Meeting growth in demand. As more and more distributed energy resources such as electric vehicles and air conditioning systems will be connected to the grid, in addition to increased economic activities, energy demand is expected to rise over the coming years.
The use of smart grid technologies will increasingly become vital to enable utilities to match energy demand with energy generation, as well as to help consumers to enhance their energy management capabilities. For instance, the use of smart meters and other utility technologies such as Volt/VAR optimisation will help in meeting the demand. Moreover, the addition of renewable energy capacity will provide the much needed electricity to meet the growing demand.
- Improving the resilience of the electricity grid to meet the challenges of climate change. Energy distribution systems will need to be hardened and devices to enable grid automation installed. Other smart grid mechanisms that would help improve grid resilience against climate change include self-healing solutions that would enable the network to self-heal or isolate itself in the event of an outage during a storm.
- Promoting the modernisation of processes related to electricity distribution infrastructure, while also taking sustainability criteria into account.
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In addition to modernising the grid, the plan is expected to enable around 10 000 jobs per year to be maintained in Spain through 2023 with 68% of the planned budget set to be made in cohesion regions.
To enhance the role smart grid technologies will play in preparing the utility to be a company of the future, Iberdrola has unveiled Global Smart Grids Innovation Hub, a platform where the company shares its experience and expertise with other innovation companies. By so doing, the utility has access to new and innovative energy solutions capable of helping the company to address challenges associated with the energy transition. Using the HUB, Iberdrola aims to double the number of its smart grid innovation projects.
The company has already identified more than 120 projects for future development and has reached agreements with 30 technology partners to develop grid digitalisation solutions, integrate renewables and boost the deployment of electric vehicles and energy storage systems.