Smart Grids in Europe progressing despite industry and economic obstacles


Amsterdam, The Netherlands — (METERING.COM) — July 31, 2012 – The smart grids industry continues its upward trajectory despite economic crises reverberating throughout Europe, says Aida Mezit, project director of the upcoming Transmission & Distribution/Smart Grids Europe conference and expo in Amsterdam.

The event forms part of the annual Metering, Billing/CRM Europe, which will gather some 6,500 utility professionals in October at what has become the largest industry event on the continent.

Says Mezit: “We have been keeping a close eye on smart grid trends over the past few years, and there is good news and not such good news for European smart grid development. Firstly, smart grids are moving from research to an early industrialization stage with the first cohesive projects rolled out not testing only one aspect, but the fully integrated systems, linking network operation and consumer.”

According to the T&D/Smart Grids Europe director, the sector has seen an accelerated number of smart projects over the last few years. She continues: “The European Commission’s and Eurelectric’s Joint Research Center (JRC) have published an inventory of over 300 projects currently taking place in Europe. At the conference in Amsterdam in October, Gianluca Fialli, JRC Action Leader, will give a full overview of developments, trends and the future predictions for European smart grid initiatives.”

More positive developments in the industry are that next generation technologies and innovation are starting to make an impact, says Mezit: “For example, an electricity network where production and consumption are integrated via real time communication and efficiency maximizing systems and mechanisms. Koen Kok, senior scientist at the Dutch organiaation for applied scientific research TNO will exemplify it through the EcoGrid project’s ahead-of-the-curve approach to real time grid balancing and consumer integration.”

Biggest hurdles to smart grid developments
The absence of  clear regulatory framework and electricity market overhaul currently are some of the biggest hurdles to smart grid developments on the continent say Mezit, which she explains are “ instrumental to prompting utilities to innovate, to create novel business models  and  attract  much needed investments. Furthermore, there is a lack of standardization and interoperability as communication standards and protocols are fragmented and lag behind technology advancements.”

More topics and speakers who will address these issues at Transmission & Distribution/Smart Grids Europe in Amsterdam in October are:  

  • Growing concerns over cyber security and data protection issues and whether utilities are adequately prepared for the digitized energy sector. Anna Fielder, a privacy expert from Privacy International, will share consumer experiences in the digital world and how they are being played out in the energy sector.
  • Getting consumers to participate in energy exchange – from home management, micro-production to demand response. An insightful study by Yolande Strangers of University of Melbourne has shown that there is a gap between how utilities view consumers (as rational micro-resource managers), and how consumers behave in reality (convenience-seeking with unpredictable patterns).

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