Smart grid technology will make our power transmission networks fit for the 21st century, balancing energy supply and demand and incorporating renewable sources of energy more effectively.
A new Dutch study suggests that grid operators will see a significant net gain from the implementation of smart energy grids in the consumer market.
In the Netherlands, a country with a population almost a quarter of the size of the UK’s, the introduction of smart grids is predicted to generate between €1 billion (£718 million) and €3.5 billion (£2.5 billion).
This estimate takes account of money saved by grid operators from avoiding costs for investment in and maintenance of existing energy grids. In addition, energy providers will be able to manage their customers’ energy consumption more effectively, allowing them to to purchase energy for more competitive wholesale prices. And energy providers will have greater access to locally generated energy to match local supply and demand, further saving costs.
The research was carried out in PowerMatching City, the first pilot project in the world to implement a smart energy grid in practice.
During the pilot, smart software was used to match energy supply and demand based on information provided by the energy providers and consumers. Researchers found that the system was more flexible than anticipated, and that demand and supply were easier to balance than expected.
The project demonstrated that smart energy systems are technically feasible and that energy flexibility makes economic sense, according to DNV GL, one of the partners in the PowerMatching City consortium.
To implement this smart and flexible energy system in the consumer market on a larger scale, it would need to be standardised, both in order to reduce the cost of connecting the households in the smart grid and to lower the price of the smart energy services. Energy purchasing would also need to take place on the basis of actually measured energy consumption or generation, DNV GL said.
Only then the energy providers will be able to profit from the added value provided by energy flexibility and share the benefits with their customers, the company concluded.