New JRC, DOE study compares smart grids in the EU and U.S.


Petten, The Netherlands and Morgantown, WV, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — December 4, 2012 – Europe’s Joint Research Center (JRC) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have published a joint report comparing European and U.S. initiatives on assessing the impacts and progress of smart grids, with the aim to find common ground and promote common best practice.

The joint report compares initiatives on a number of themes including smart grid definition and conceptual framework, project mapping and classification, project impact assessment based on performance indicators and cost-benefit analysis, and platforms for sharing and dissemination of project results.

Among the findings are that EU and U.S. smart grid experts share similar views on the main components and functions of the smart grid. In both regions the main policy objective for the deployment of smart grids is to provide sustainable, efficient and secure electricity supply to consumers. In the EU this is driven by the 2020 environmental targets, while in the U.S. interim 2020 outage and peak load reduction targets have been set.

Mapping of projects is on-going in both regions. In the JRC’s first inventory, 219 projects were listed with a total budget over €5 billion. In the U.S. the major smart grid projects funded through the DOE include 99 Smart Grid Investment Grants, 32 smart grid demonstration projects and 9 renewable and distributed systems integration projects with a combined budget of $11.4 billion.

The dissemination of information, results, and lessons learned is of great value to bring together the smart grid community and support the smart grid transition. However, there is a great room for improvement in the systematic collection, organization and dissemination of this information, including ensuring consistency in terminology, project classification, reporting templates, etc.

Smart grid project impact assessment indicates a conceptual similarity in approach in the EU and U.S. However, several areas merit further discussion, including how to measure and analyze social impacts, how to include them in the cost-benefit analysis, and how the different project assessment approaches may be combined.

One of the most critical and complex steps in smart grid assessment is how to scale up and extrapolate project results to a wider scale. Further discussion should focus on possible approaches. For the U.S. this could include additional customers within the service territory of the electric service provider and extrapolation of results to areas with similar characteristics to the control area. For the EU examples of larger control areas include country-wide based on the country’s electric policies and TSO regions.

The report was prepared within the framework of the EU-US Energy Council, which intends to deepen transatlantic dialogue on strategic energy issues such as policies to move towards low carbon energy sources while strengthening the on-going scientific collaboration on energy technologies.