Smart Grids – Future Electricity Grids in a Transatlantic Learning Center at the CSD 15
Combinations of electrical, information and communication technologies allow for Smart Grids to provide dynamic efficiency for power generation, transmission and distribution. Ecologic took the lead in preparing a Learning Centre on the current state and potential of Smart Grids at the 15th Session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 15). The course highlighted the benefits of smart grids for an increased use of variable renewable power sources, while enhancing energy security, stabilising electricity grids and reducing the need for reserve capacity, leading to economic benefits and reduced carbon dioxide emission.
The international energy policy debate focuses mainly on expanding the supply of renewable energies and the efficiency of energy use, especially in the field of electricity. The potential for using information and communication technologies to create much more flexible, stable and efficient power supply systems has been largely ignored so far.
This may change: The Learning Centre took place in the wake of the US-EU Summit with US President George W. Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking for EU Presidency, and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. The US-EU Summit adopted a statement on "Energy Security, Efficiency, and Climate Change" in which the leaders affirmed their "commitment to accelerate the transformation of our infrastructure" and promised to "act together [...] to research, develop, deploy and commercialize clean energy technologies that will change the way we power our homes, businesses, and automobiles". With case studies from the US and the United Kingdom and contributions covering Germany, the Learning Centre made a first contribution to the emerging transatlantic exchange on Smart Grids or intelligent utility networks.
The United States may be leading in this field soon, if regulatory policy and utility practice exploit the potential provided by recent changes in the law. The US Energy Policy Act of 2005 provides legal bases for time-variable tariffs (section 1252 (a) (14) & (c)), load-based tariffs, real-time prices and load-variable demand management (section 1252 (f) & (b) (i-iv)), and net metering and feed-in tariffs (sections 1254 (15) & 1251 (a) (11)). There is some practice in the Member States of the European Union (EU), but no equivalent framework at the EU level.
The Learning Centre in the UN Headquarters New York during the 15th Session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 15) was moderated by R. Andreas Kraemer of Ecologic and addressed the potential benefits of Smart Grids for developed and developing countries with or without interconnected electricity grids, as well as stand-alone or off-grid systems.
- Short summary of the event at the website of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA)
- Presentation of David Hirst, RLtec: Electricity Innovations for Sustainable Development
- Presentation of Matthew Zafuto, IBM: How an Intelligent Utility Network will transform data into information to address key areas of importance to energy utilities
- The most recent debates in the US were at the GridWeek conference in Washington, D.C., on 23-26 April 2007.