Bo Nomark of InnoEnergy speaks to Government Europa about the importance of updating the current EU transmission network and how making the current system smarter can enable greener electricity.
The EU transmission network is becoming outdated and we are having to upgrade grid systems. According to the European Commission, replacing 80% of electricity meters with smart meters by 2020 and rolling out smart grids can reduce emissions in the EU by up to 9%. Upgrading the current transmission systems to smart grids is key to greening Europe’s electricity supply. Smart grids not only make it easier to control the supply of electricity, they can also help to better integrate renewable energy.
The issues with traditional systems
The role of smart grids is to upgrade and enhance the traditional and old systems that we currently have in place throughout Europe. GE discusses with Nomark the reasons behind why we need to upgrade our energy transmission systems and the issues we are currently faced with when using the traditional EU transmission network; Nomark said: “We have a new parallel because we want to have more renewable energy on the system, that leaves us with this parallel shift. Previously, production was following demand, now it is the other way around, and that poses some challenges for the system.
“To produce the same amount of energy we need more power and that means we have to increase the power capacity in the grid, I would say that is where the big challenge is. We are starting to have the discussion around power and energy, and what we need to do to ensure supply meets demand. We can supply the energy but we also need the power.”
Nomark also went on to explain the example of how the roll-out of more electric vehicles is affecting the EU transmission network: “If you start introducing electric vehicles, all of a sudden you will have a significant change in the use pattern for electricity, therefore it is a combination of long lead times with these solutions that are influencing the changes today.”
Enabling greener energy by using smart grids
The main focus behind smart grids is to enable more renewable energy, Nomark discusses how replacing traditional EU transmission network systems with smart grids makes this possible: “One of the major benefits of the smart grid is that we can control the demand. It is possible to actually shift some of the demand around, depending on how much it is valued around the grid.
“Of course, controlling demand is very important, however secondly, smart grids are better for storage. Storage is actually becoming a lot more affordable and it can be used at different levels in the grid. It is one of the key elements in the grid with smart solutions.”
Nomark explains one of the statistics and calculations made at InnoEnergy which illustrates how the smart grid enables greater use of renewables: “We have taken data from Sweden, but if you look at a normal household, if you use the storage in buildings, it is enough to store 1kw/h per apartment. This storage means that we can cut the peak load of the entire building by 40%.”
Can we achieve a greener EU transmission network?
Despite all of the benefits that are clear from Nomark’s discussion, we have to ensure that across Europe we can realistically implement more smart grids and that they are feasible. Nomark explains the future landscape, expressing: “Of course, we believe that in the future it is possible to run and operate a power system using 100% renewable energy. However, to achieve this it requires us to use all of the smart technologies available and also that we utilise storage. If we look back to a few years ago, very few people believed that this would be possible, but today, people are increasingly understanding that this is attainable.
“One very important point that I would like to make is: for the first time, we are discussing how we can assemble, and how we can connect these grids at a European level. We are finally learning how we can connect the greening of the power system with industry development. This is one of the key things and we can now link these two together.”
InnoEnergy provides support for companies with proven concepts, related to a specific element from their thematic fields. It is the innovation engine for sustainable energy across Europe and is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. InnoEnergy has already supported the implementation of more smart grids throughout Europe, as it has a number of projects looking at implementing better control of the EU transmission network. It is also supporting a number of projects around storage, looking at different storage solutions with different companies.
Thematic Leader of Smart Grids and Electric Storage