The 2012/12/13 at 08:43
Optimising grid usage and improving the match between supply and demand by taking into account the opportunities offered by sustainable energy resources, testing new technologies and studying their generalisation, setting the standards that need to be maintained and spreading best practices – these are the objectives of Grid4EU, the biggest European smart grid project benefiting from 25 million euros in funding from the European Commission for a total cost valued at 54 million euros and steered by ERDF (Electricité Réseau Distribution France).
Thanks to the use of technologies aimed at optimising integration and distribution as well as electricity consumption, the initiative seeks to develop the current grid via a vast smart system. This approach offers multiple advantages as it allows energy savings to be made, the network to become more automated and better secured, and sources of renewable energy production to be better integrated.
“These innovative technologies are going to enable us to make the grid more modern and reactive. This is the common goal of the six European demonstrators in the Grid4EU project, currently testing these ideas in different geographical zones. We favour solutions that we know can be replicated on a large scale. This choice is also shared by our overseas partners,” explains Rémy Garaude-Verdier, Coordinator of the Grid4EU project at ERDF. The project entails international coordination and the sharing of experience between the six demonstrators in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
The project namely sets out to test solutions to increase the reliability and reactivity of the electricity grid, in order, for example, to be able to resupply clients as quickly and in as automated a manner as possible when power failure is detected. France already has 30 regional monitoring centres relying on 100,000 remote controls installed in the grid, allowing clients who suffer from power failure incidents to be resupplied rapidly.
Four out of the six project demonstrators also aim to test the optimisation of the integration of renewable energies in the electricity distribution network. In France for example, 95 % of electricity production from wind farms or photovoltaic panels is linked up to the distribution grid. Certain variations in tension can occur locally during production peaks for these energies, sometimes leading to the necessity to disconnect these production means from the grid. Thanks to smart grids, these problems specific to certain sectors are more easily detected and automatic mechanisms can help regulate tension without “switching off” production temporarily. As well as a solution for increasing the quality of supply, the demonstrators thus offer a response for integrating more renewable energy.
The notion of “consumactors”, aiming to involve clients in this process to optimise energy operation, is also fully developing and will be major axis of the French demonstrator, “”, based in Carros in the region. In this way, depending on the levels of electricity consumption anticipated from one day to another, clients will be invited to dynamically shift certain usages to certain hours of the day. “At this present time, we put 12 million boilers to work every evening all over France to allow clients to benefit from the most advantageous rates. At the Nice demonstrator, we will be focusing on setting off boilers in the mid afternoon when the photovoltaic panels of clients produce a maximum in energy. To set up this type of time shift, we will for example be able to send an SMS to clients to inform them of the best time for using their household appliances,” illustrates Rémy Garaude-Verdier. Smart metres that communicate information are another key element for transforming consumers into consumactors.
AtERDF also imagines large-scale energy storage systems in batteries capable of stocking energy produced when the sun heats up the most, and distributing this energy over the evening for domestic household usage. This smart electricity operation also interests businesses, especially those involved in activities where increased flexibility for energy consumption is particularly important.