Widespread deployment of smart grids critical for clean energy future


Nobuo Tanaka,
Executive Director,
Paris, France — (METERING.COM) — April 6, 2011 – The widespread deployment of smart grids is critical for a secure, cost effective and clean energy future, according to the International Energy Agency’s newly released "Smart Grids Technology Roadmap."

With peak demand expected to increase between 2010 and 2050 in all regions, smart grid deployment could reduce these increases, with for example, reductions of from 13 percent to 24 percent projected for four regions, China, the European Union, North America and the Pacific.

The Roadmap provides a consensus view from more than 200 government, industry, academia and consumer representatives on the current status of smart grid technologies, and charts a course for expanding their use from today to 2050.

According to the Roadmap the physical and institutional complexity of electricity systems makes it unlikely that the market alone will implement smart grids on the scale that is needed. Further, the rapid expansion of smart grids is hindered by a tendency on the part of governments to shy away from taking ownership of and responsibility for actively evolving or developing new electricity system regulations, policy and technology. These trends have led to a diffusion of roles and responsibilities among government and industry actors, and have reduced overall expenditure on technology development and demonstration, and policy development.

The result has been slow progress on a number of regional smart grid pilot projects that are needed. Large scale, system-wide demonstrations are urgently needed to determine solutions that can be deployed at full scale, and large scale pilot projects are urgently needed in all world regions to test business models and then adapt them to the local circumstances.

“We need to see a much more aggressive investment in large-scale regional pilots in order to deploy smart grids at the scale they are needed,” said IEA executive director Nobuo Tanaka. “In addition to funding regional pilots, governments need to establish clear and consistent policies, regulations and plans for electricity systems that will allow innovative investment in smart grids. It will also be vital to gain greater public engagement.”

The Roadmap also recommends greater international collaboration to share experiences on pilot programs, and to leverage national investments in technology development. Further, there is a need to develop common standards that will optimize and accelerate the development and deployment of smart grid technology, while reducing the costs for all stakeholders.