domingo, 7 de novembro de 2010

Smart Grids - the future or fantasy?

Smart Grids is a common denominator for a wide range of developments that make medium and low voltage grids more intelligent and flexible than they are nowadays. Main motive for Smart Grid initiatives is that such developments improve reliability of supply and/or support the trend towards a more sustainable energy supply. At this moment, medium and low voltage networks can not be remotely observed and controlled. Various companies are developing technologies aiming at creating smarter networks. However, these developments tend to root in technological possibilities, rather than in a sound problem analysis and a structured approach towards its solution. In the recent past, a great variety of sensors, protocols, communication equipment and the like has been designed to support the move towards Smart Grids. However, many of them have not found wide application, which can be at least partly attributed to the fact that there were no "problems" for which they provided a solution so that it was not possible to draw up a positive business case. In summary, there was too much technology push and too little market pull. The fact that some of manufacturers of unsuccessful technologies even blame network operators as conservative instead of improving the price performance ratio of their products further hampers a real take off of Smart Grids. Notwithstanding the mixed present picture, Enexis has high expectations of the future of Smart Grid technologies. In the short term, Enexis focuses on applying Smart Grid technologies for improving the reliability of supply through increasing the speed of restoration after an interruption. To this end, Enexis has planned the large-scale deployment of remote control on certain points in the medium voltage networks to detect and localize outages due to component failures. This makes it no longer necessary to rely on phone calls of people whose lights and televisions turn off for outage detection and makes fault location much quicker. Smart G- rid technologies can thus battle the expected increase in component failures, the inevitable consequences of an ageing infrastructure. In the longer term, Smart Grid technologies will play an important role in maintaining reliability of supply and improving sustainability. The complexity of electricity distribution increases. Gardeners connect CHP plants to the grids and the number of wind turbines increases. This also applies for small generators, such as micro CHP plants and PV panels. Smart Gridssupport these developments by continuously monitoring and controlling the gridand the generators. Enexis believes that effective deployment of Smart Gridtechnologies requires a top down approach. Therefore Enexis is developing a vision on the role of the medium and low voltage networks in a sustainable energy future. With Enexis' vision becoming clearer over time, ever greater efforts will be spent on developing the appropriate and necessary Smart Gridtechnologies in cooperation with commercial energy companies, other gridoperators and suppliers, as well as to increasingly focused discussions with the regulator and the government on the future energy supply and the role ofSmart Grids in it.

Slootweg, H. ;
Enexis B.V., Netherlands

This paper appears in:  Smart Metering - Making It Happen, 2009 IET
Issue Date :  19-19 Feb. 2009
On page(s): 1 - 19
Location: London
Print ISBN: 978-1-84919-089-3
INSPEC Accession Number: 10878916
Date of Current Version :   10 Abril 2009

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