Smart grid to be developed in Ireland


Eamon Ryan,
Ireland’s Energy &
Dublin, Ireland — (METERING.COM) — July 24, 2009 – The government of Ireland has announced that it will develop a smart grid as part of its new digital and clean technology strategy for the country.

The strategy, aimed at realizing a “smart economy,” targets the creation of 30,000 new jobs over the next decade.

In an age of increasing energy uncertainties, a robust electrical power system that has the infrastructural capacity and technological capability to facilitate the development of Ireland’s renewable energy potential and to improve overall energy efficiency, is the cornerstone of the country’s long-term strategy to ensure a sustainable, secure and competitive economy, says the government in its strategy document. Building a 21st century national electricity grid is an indispensable component towards achieving government economic and environmental policy and is the foundation stone for achieving all national and European Union sustainability targets.

Noting that Ireland’s transmission operator EirGrid plans to spend €4 billion between now and 2025 building a new electricity transmission system designed to tap into Ireland’s renewable energy resources and to facilitate the integration of new smart network technologies, the government says that many of the building blocks for smart networks in Ireland are already in place or are being developed.

Smart metering is being investigated by ESB Networks, with links with the U.S. Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), University College Dublin’s Electricity Research Center and the national energy agency Sustainable Energy Ireland. To date, some 8,000 meters have been installed as part of the testing phase of the project, and a working group has been established to set out how to roll out smart meters to every home in the next five years.

Furthermore along with ESB International, the complex solutions required to bring the many components of smart networks to successful implementation stage are being investigated and researched.

Among these a Memorandum of Understanding has been announced recently between the Irish government, ESB and Renault-Nissan as a first step in bringing electric vehicles to Ireland’s roads. However, many challenges remain including the rollout of a national public charging infrastructure, standardization of charging connections and interoperability between cars, changing infrastructure and electricity networks, smart charging to minimise system peak implications of high penetration of EVs, and open and flexible IT and data management systems to enable all electricity suppliers to compete for EV charging.

Other elements of the digital and clean technology strategy include building an exemplar smart communications network, developing energy efficient data centers and cloud computing, a new International Content Services Centre (ICSC) to be located in Ireland, a new application to reduce commuting times and allow for home working, and a plan to establish a marine testing center in Galway Bay.

“The series of innovations in government policy today will make the smart economy a reality,” said energy and communications minister Eamon Ryan on the launch of the strategy. “We have identified the challenges the world will face in the next decade – climate change, a peak in global oil production and the fight for scarce resources including energy and water. Building on our existing strengths, this is an innovative plan which will put our small open economy on a strong footing for a global upturn.”