Engerati’s Week in Smart Energy: technology development is key

ERDF's GreenLys project Engerati smart energy news
ERDF’s GreenLys project in the French cities of Lyon and Grenoble is a comprehensive approach to smarter living

With many smart grid pilots about testing technologies under a local condition it is sometimes forgotten that they can also be about developing a new technology, writes Jonathan Spencer Jones, contributing editor to Engerati, the sister portal to Engerati.

An example is ERDF’s GreenLys project in the cities of Lyon and Grenoble, which is one of France’s most comprehensive smart grid pilots, encompassing the whole gamut of smart grid technologies.

One of the work packages is focused on the introduction of volt/var control at LV level, which is becoming a necessity with the growing capacity of solar PV. [ERDF Pioneers Volt/Var Control At LV Level] With this comes the development of new technologies which, thanks to the project and French support, will be available to other countries that face the same needs.

Who pays for new technology?

The issue of subsidies for renewables and other clean technologies is a thorny one.

We believe that subsidies should be given to support the development of a technology but ultimately it should be able to stand on its own feet.

The question is when that time is. The withdrawal by the British government of subsidies for new onshore windfarms one year early has caused a particularly strong backlash in Scotland, where the largest proportion of such projects are under development. [UK Wind Subsidy Cut Threatens Investor Certainty] Do you agree with these views or do you think the impacts are being overstated?

In an exclusive interview, John Webster, VP of marketing and strategy for EMEA & APAC at Opower, advocates that utilities should be building “digital trust” with their customers.

Customers who are digitally-engaged are proven to be more likely to purchase additional products and services that the utility is best placed to provide.

Utilities should aim to be in a position where customers are actively engaging with their utility and are happy to provide personal information because they know they will get value back, says Mr Webster. [Building Digital Trust Will Open Doors for Utilities]

An unexpected challenge of increasing solar PV capacity on the grid is how to manage this during a solar eclipse. For the March 20 eclipse, calculations for Europe’s grid indicated a possible decrease of 20GW within 1 hour, followed by an increase of almost 40GW over a similar period after maximum eclipse.

In the event the impacts were lower, due to cloudier than expected conditions, but still the advanced planning paid off. The lessons learned should be of wide interest and should stand the region’s TSOs in good stead to manage future eclipses when the PV capacity is expected to be two to three times greater. [Managing Solar PV During An Eclipse]

We continue our Asian Utility Week interviews with a conversation with Babu Babel, Chief Executive of Energy at Secure Meters, who talks about smart metering in the region, which is being driven primarily by cost reduction and revenue protection needs. [Know Your Drivers and Choose Appropriate Partners] He also urges utilities to look carefully at their business drivers to ensure they pick the right smart meter solution.