Smart grids could cut Europe’s consumption by 200TWh/year
The implementation of smart grids across Europe could cut consumption by up to 200TWh/year, and emissions by up to 100m tonnes/year.
"As consumers change their behaviour to use less electricity via the grids, it will have a huge impact on markets and emissions," Capgemini vice president Colette Lewiner said at the Réseaux électriques du futur conference in Paris on Wednesday. "The success of these grids is crucial to achieving European Commission climate goals," she added.
Lewiner welcomed the implementation of smart grids in France, saying that the intelligent control of supply and demand would smooth consumption over peak and off-peak periods.
"Consumers will either take a passive role, as the smart grids help them to shave off consumption peaks, or an active role, becoming generators themselves. But anything that helps us to cut consumption is welcome," Lewiner said.
Ronnie Belmans, a professor at the Belgian university Katholieke Universiteit Leuven called for investment into smart grids rather than Europe's ageing existing infrastructure if the region is to meet present consumption growth of 2%/year.
Belmans called for greater clarity around smart grids, saying that the European Commission had called for 50% of electricity grids to be smart by 2020, but that it had "failed to define the term properly".
There was disagreement, however, about who should shoulder the cost of France's smart grids. Anh Vu, head of the smart grid project for EDF's distribution subsidiary ERDF, said costs should be shared between industry and consumers. But Jean-Claude Lenoir, an MP for Orne, in northwest France, said that French grid operator RTE should pay.
Lenoir said power consumption would be "flat" if smart grids were rolled out quickly, but warned that France was lagging behind its neighbour, Italy. He also pointed to the "intermittent" character of renewable energy in France, which would make monitoring and balancing transmission levels on smart grids challenging.
The EU's target of meeting 20% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020 makes additional investment in Europe's power grids key. European grid operator group ENTSO-E and regulatory body ERGEG are inviting responses to the 10-year network development plan by 1 March. CN
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