Smart5Grid to advance 5G for smart grids in Europe

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The EU Horizon 2020 supported Smart5Grid project plans to develop a 5G network platform customised for modern smart grids.

The €8.2 million (US$10 million) project running for 36 months from January 2021 aims to advance and demonstrate 5G solutions across the energy vertical.

5G is envisioned to be the first global technology standard that will address the variety of future use cases of the energy sector, by ensuring that both the radio and core network performance requirements can be met in terms of end-to-end latency, reliability and availability.

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Up to now, the main discussion for 5G has been to support the next wave of smart grid features and efficiency at the behind-the-meter level by integrating many low voltage devices into the power grid through low cost connections, managing demand and load balance domestically.

However, as smart grids continue to grow, a lion share of the growth is expected to take place in the medium voltage levels, towards secondary substations and distributed energy resources, as well as between secondary and primary substations.

Smart5Grid aims to establish four fundamental functions of modern smart grids, i.e. automatic power distribution grid fault detection; remote inspection of automatically delimited working areas at distribution level; millisecond level precise distribution generation control; and real-time wide area monitoring in a cross-border scenario.

The initiative will develop and deploy a baseline 5G architecture and interfaces for the provisioning of an open 5G network platform customised for the energy sector, drawing on developments in the region through the EU’s 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership.

This will then be demonstrated in initiatives in four countries, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria and Greece.

Smart5Grid also plans to introduce an open 5G experimental facility to support the integration, testing and validation of existing and new 5G services as well as network apps from third parties, i.e., SMEs, developers, engineers, etc., outside the project consortium.

Moreover, in order to supply start-ups and others with the opportunity to accelerate their growth in the sector, Smart5Grid intends to provide an open access NetApp repository and third party provisioning support and assistance through a clear experimentation roadmap.

As 5G moves towards exploitation and commercialisation in the sector, new business models are expected to emerge, which also will be a focus for the initiative.

Smart5Grid is led by Enel and includes 24 energy sector and industry partners.