Lessons from smart grid demonstration projects around the world


Arnhem, The Netherlands — (METERING.COM) — November 7, 2012 – Detailed study of smart grid demonstration projects around the world can provide guidance on what aspects to concentrate on, how to avoid the mistakes of others, and to identify areas where there is a lack of knowledge or skills in advance, according to a new study from Netbeheer Nederland and DNV KEMA Energy & Sustainability.

Further, the process of learning through implementing real demonstration projects can be sped up through participation in selective targeted collaborative efforts with other stakeholders. Uniting efforts with grid operators and market players in other (European) countries will allow different aspects of a project to be conducted in different locations in parallel, with results being shared throughout the duration of the project.

The study, Global Inventory and Analysis of Smart Grid Demonstration Projects, was prepared by DNV KEMA to assist network operators in the Netherlands in planning their smart grid projects. Netbeheer Nederland is the country’s association of energy network operators.

The report is categorized according to Netbeheer Nederland’s smart grid roadmap and identifies 47 projects from the hundreds globally that are analyzed in detail, with a focus on continental differences.

Among the main conclusions are that smart grids can be used to counter peaks in energy consumption because they can be used with pricing incentives. However, a rates incentive alone is often insufficient to reduce demand. Consumer involvement is also necessary to achieve this. Energy displays and smart phone applications in particular increase consumers’ awareness of their energy consumption. However, many consumers are not yet aware of the opportunities that smart grids offer. It is important that this changes in order to gain sufficient support for this new technology.

Smart grids are also an important precondition to making the energy transition possible. Dutch network operators invest approximately €1.5 billion annually in the replacement and expansion of their grids. According to Netbeheer Nederland, €20 to 70 billion extra must be invested before 2050 in order to adapt and ‘smarten’ the energy grids. It is imperative that these investments be practical.

However, before the network operators can decide to make such sizeable investments, it is important that they first gain smaller scale experience with the different aspects of a smart grid. The experiences should be shared among the network operators and with other stakeholders, with the aim of using this knowledge to make the right choices for the future.

Finally it is recommended to keep track of the fast developments regarding smart grid demonstration projects globally. The majority of the projects have started after January 1, 2011. Many results therefore are expected to be reported in one to three years from now while many other projects are about to start this year, and more are expected in the coming years.