Co-ordinated policies across the EU have helped to kick-start a number of smart grid projects. Many of these remain small scale. The European Commission (EC) has endeavoured to incorporate strategies within its 2008 Climate Action directive to help increase the proportion of renewable energy used across the EU, increase the market share of biofuels, and reduce overall emissions.
By 2012, between 25% and 40% of homes in Europe will be equipped with smart meters, compared to 6% currently. Italy and Sweden are leading the adoption of smart meters in Europe with 100% installation expected by 2009. Smart metering is also being introduced on a large scale in Denmark, Finland (by Vattenfall, Fortum and E.ON) and Austria. New legislation is expected to mandate smart metering in Ireland and Norway, where in June 2007 the energy authority NVE recommended legislation requiring smart meters to be installed by 2013. The Norwegian network, modelled on that of Sweden, would cost €š500 million and affect 2.6 million customers. Belgium is developing plans to introduce smart metering funded by an increase in distribution tariffs. In France, Alcatel-Lucent in June 2008 developed a smart metering solution incorporating a web interface which provides consumers with information on their power consumption.
Italy is at the fore-front of European smart grid technology and deployment. Digital smart meters have been compulsory for all electricity providers since 2006. The government’s timetable is for 65% of customers of the approximately 100 electricity companies to be on smart meters by 2009, 90% by 2010 and 95% by 2011.
The world’s largest smart meter deployment was carried out by the utility Enel which had provided meters to 27 million customers by 2005; only a further two million meters need to be replaced. The meters use Broadband Power Line (BPL) technology to communicate with Enel’s servers, enabling the company to turn power on or off remotely, read usage information, detect outages, and change billing plans. The €š2.1 billion capex provides annual cost savings of some €š500 million Ë†’ an extraordinary return on investment within five years. Enel also provides a mobile connection to meters as part of its smart grid.
Enel’s competitor Acea-Electrabel has also launched its smart meter project, in Rome, and planned to have 1.5 million meters installed by 2009. A2A in Milan is also extending smart meters to its gas network.
In the UK, providers including Centrica, Scottish and Southern Energy, British Gas and EDF have tested smart metering technology in homes for several years. In May 2007 the government set in train the requirement for energy suppliers to install smart meters in most businesses by 2012. There are no similar plans for residential smart metering (affecting about 45 million meters); the government is at present leaning towards a less sophisticated solution, proposing that suppliers install electricity display devices (EDDs) free of charge whenever a traditional electricity meter is installed or replaced. EDDS provide consumers with general information about their power consumption, but the technology falls short of smart meter capabilities. The energy regulator Ofgem has funded smart metering trials with 40,000 households, funded by with grants of £9.75 million, while the Energy Retail Association (ERA), in launching the Look Smart campaign in 2007, has called for smart meters to be installed in all homes (servicing gas and electricity) within ten years. Small scale operations include utilising renewable energy via Active Network Management in the Orkney Islands, as also utilising wind power via dynamic line rating technology and biogas energy via voltage control technology (EON Central Networks and EDF Energy).
Several smart meter trials are underway in Germany, including those in Linz and Dortmund. The DISPOWER virtual power plant set up in Stutensee provides intelligent power to 100 apartments and houses. Power is sourced from gas and Photovoltaic (PV) systems, monitored remotely and controlled by an energy management system (EMS). Intelligent load management avoids exceeding the voltage band. The EMS automatically contacts residents via SMS or email to suggest using appliances such as washing machines within a specific time frame based on high energy yield from the PV systems.
In The Netherlands, the government in September 2007 proposed that all households (running to 12 million electricity and gas meters) should have smart meters by 2013 as part of a national energy reduction plan. Companies such as Continuon and Delta Netwerkbedrijf have installed meters in a number of cities, while trials have also been conducted with water utilities.
In Sweden all four million households will have smart meters installed by July 2009. Of these, about 1.2 million large users will have meters which can be read every hour. The nationwide smart meter project was launched in 1996, principally to enable users to switch more easily between the 165 service providers. Meters have a range of built-in capabilities; including Internet access to the data generated by the meters; some 20,000 of these meters have been installed in V¤xjo. The total project cost is likely to reach €š1.7 billion. About 30 providers, serving some 825,000 customers, have combined their buying power under the name SAMS, thus reducing overall cost.
Senior Analyst Europe BuddeComm
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