Smart grids manage power – upstream and downstream

Posted on 09 July 2019.

Smart grids promise optimized energy use through better management of our power networks. A great leap forward for the energy transition!

Goal? Optimize the use of our energy resources. A key circular economy principle.

The energy transition is now a priority for governments, industry and business. What is the major challenge for this transition? Moving from our current system of using fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) to a new model that uses cleaner energy sources and is more environmentally friendly.
At the same time the global energy demand continues to grow rapidly: estimates say it will increase 30% by 2040. This is a result of the demographic explosion, digitization, larger cities and greater mobility...
The challenge is therefore a significant one. How do we respond to the growing demand for electricity and at the same time meet our energy transition goals? In other words, how do we produce the energy the world needs as well as preserving resources and fighting global warming?
In recent years, smart grids have been seen as a promising solution to this challenge. They make use of big data to control electricity production and consumption. The aim is to optimize the use of our energy resources - a key circular economy principle.

A new smart grid

Conventional electricity grids are designed to distribute the energy that power plants generate to users. Using smart grid technology, the grid is also able to bring in electricity produced locally (via wind turbines, solar panels, etc.) and anticipate consumer usage. This technology is used at every level on the power grid: from generation to transmission through distribution and electricity consumption.

• Balancing electricity supply and demand

Practically speaking connected sensors are installed throughout the network. They display electricity production and consumption levels in real time. Network operators can thus redirect the energy going to a site where there is low demand to somewhere else - a business, a home – where the demand is higher. Smart grids therefore offer real flexibility in electricity grid management, which makes it possible to achieve a better balance between supply and demand.

• Secure networks

Smart sensors directly interconnect the different points on the electricity grid: production sites exchange information instantly with consumption sites. For example, as soon as a peak in consumption or a failure is detected, the data circulates within the network. Managers can then react quickly to ensure network continuity and secure the electricity supply.

• Better integrate renewable energy

Smart grid technology makes it easier to bring renewable energy into the electricity grids. Because real-time network data is collected, smart grids are able to immediately react to the intermittent nature of renewable energy production (such as wind, sun, etc.). The grid can be swiftly stabilized -, for example by storing excess electricity.

• Save energy

Smart electricity meters provide homes and operators with information about peak consumption times, household consumption, and more. Users can better control their consumption and reduce their electricity bills. In France, it is estimated that around 35 million connected meters will be manufactured and installed in our homes by 2021