Smart Grid Benefits

Why Smart Grids:

The three main drivers of energy policy across the world: energy security, affordability and climate change have created a paradigm shift in how electricity networks are designed, built and operated, particularly with the convergence of ICT and traditional electricity networks.

In addition, customers are becoming more involved in the energy system, not just for energy savings but as producers as well.

This has given rise to the concept of Smart Grid and a new ecosystem of industry participants: adding ICT companies, data management and data analytics to the existing traditional players.

New technologies and techniques are continually emerging and being developed to meet the challenges and no one sector or industry has all the answers.

In addition there are specific challenges unique to individual countries which require tailored responses.

Smart Grid Ireland has been formed as a non-profit collaborative network to provide the forum for that dialogue and support for the specific needs of Ireland, North and South, to position Ireland as a leader in the development of smart grids for the transformation of the energy sector and to provide a stimulus for job creation.

Smart Grid Definition:

A Smart Grid is an electricity network that can cost efficiently integrate the behaviour and actions of all users connected to it – generators, consumers and those that do both – in order to ensure economically efficient, sustainable power system with low losses and high levels of quality and security of supply and safety.

A Smart Grid employs innovative products and services together with intelligent monitoring, control, communication, and self-healing technologies in order to:

  • Better facilitate the connection and operation of generators of all sizes and technologies.
  • Allow consumers to play a part in optimising the operation of the system.
  • Provide consumers with greater information and options for how they use their supply.
  • Significantly reduce the environmental impact of the whole electricity supply system.
  • Maintain or even improve the existing high levels of system reliability, quality and security of supply.
  • Maintain and improve the existing services efficiently.
  • Foster market integration towards European integrated market.

Smart Grid Services

The 6 high level services the Smart Grids Task Force of the European Commission defined are :

  1. Enabling the network to integrate users with new requirements
    • Outcome: Guarantee the integration of distributed energy resources (both large and small-scale intermittent renewable generation, heat pumps, electric vehicles and storage) connected to the distribution network.
    • Provider: DSOs
    • Primary beneficiaries: Generators, consumers (including mobile consumers), storage owners.
  2. Enhancing efficiency in day-to-day grid operation
    • Outcome: Optimise the operation of distribution assets and improve the efficiency of the network through enhanced automation, monitoring, protection and real time operation. Faster fault identification/resolution will help improve continuity of supply levels.
    • Better understanding and management of technical and non-technical losses, and optimised asset maintenance activities based on detailed operational information.
    • Provider: DSOs, metering operators
    • Primary beneficiaries: Consumers, generators, suppliers, DSOs
  3. Ensuring network security, system control and quality of supply
    • Outcome: Foster system security through an intelligent and more effective control of distributed energy resources, ancillary back-up reserves and other ancillary services. Maximise the capability of the network to manage intermittent generation, without adversely affecting quality of supply parameters.
    • Provider: DSOs, aggregators, suppliers.
    • Primary beneficiaries: Generators, consumers, aggregators, DSOs, TSOs
  4. Enabling better planning of future network investment
    • Outcome: Collection and use of data to enable more accurate modelling of networks especially at LV level, also taking into account new grid users, in order to optimise infrastructure requirements and so reduce their environmental impact. Introduction of new methodologies for more ‘active’ distribution, exploiting active and reactive control capabilities of distributed energy resources.
    • Provider: DSOs, metering operators.
    • Primary beneficiaries: Consumers, generators, storage owners
  5. Improving market functioning and customer service
    • Outcome: Increase the performance and reliability of current market processes through improved data and data flows between market participants, and so enhance customer experience.
    • Provider: Suppliers (with applications and services providers), power exchange platform providers, DSOs, metering operators.
    • Primary beneficiaries: Consumers, suppliers, applications and services providers
  6. Enabling and encouraging stronger and more direct involvement of consumers in their energy usage and management
    • Outcome: Foster greater consumption awareness taking advantage of smart metering systems and improved customer information, in order to allow consumers to modify their behaviour according to price and load signals and related information.
    • Promote the active participation of all actors to the electricity market, through demand response programmes and a more effective management of the variable and non-programmable generation. Obtain the consequent system benefits: peak reduction, reduced network investments, ability to integrate more intermittent generation.
    • Provider: Suppliers (with metering operators and DSOs), ESCOs.
    • Primary beneficiaries: Consumers, generators. Indeed, consumers will benefit:
      • either because these services will contribute to the 20/20/20 targets
      • or directly through improvement of quality of supply and other services
      • The hypothesis made here is that company efficiency and the benefit of the competitive market will be passed to consumers– at least partly - in the form of tariff or price optimisation, and is dependent on effective regulation and markets.

Benefits to Ireland

  • Ireland can become a showcase for Smart Grid Solutions
  • Ireland will be leaders in Smart Grid development in areas of RD&D, Product and Service development leading to increased added value and employment for the economy, North and South.
  • We will have reliable and operationally effective energy networks at reduced cost 
  • We can integrate 40% variable renewables generation into our networks, facilitated by technology and demand response leading to reduction in imported energy 
  • At a more local level we can Integrate variable distributed generation, storage, and EVs on low voltage distribution system
  • Active demand response by consumers will help to get more renewables on the system and will save money both for the consumers and the country
  • Smart metering will be available to all consumers to enable them to manage their energy usage and cost
  • There will be products, systems and processes to enable integration of energy use and other services on a common platform to create value for consumers that goes beyond energy
  • We will see significant decarbonisation of electricity production leading to decarbonisation of other sectors such as heat and transport