Focus on European Smart Grids

A host of initiatives across Europe has led to an explosion in interest into how, and where, smart grids will be implemented and deployed.

According to Jose Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio, a leading voice in the Electricity industry, “It is clear that dramatic change is coming in the future for the electric utility industry…the way energy is generated, delivered and consumed [is] substantially changing the whole business model. This change is coming to a piece of the industry that hasn’t been known for radical change over its 120 plus year history… Implementation of the Smart Grid will require a complete rethinking of the utility business model and business processes.”

U.S. Leading the Charge

But it’s in the U.S. that the most impressive initiative is taking place. A new project has been announced to deliver the first ever Smart Grid City that will be a “first step toward building the grid of the future,” according to Dick Kelly, Xcel Energy chairman, president and CEO. “In Boulder, we’ll collaborate with others to integrate all aspects of our smart grid vision and evaluate the benefits. The work we’re doing will benefit not only Boulder, but also customers throughout our eight-state service territory.”

In addition, the GridWise Alliance [including CISCO, GE, IBM, SAP and others] aims to drive forward an “electric system that integrates the infrastructure, processes, devices, information and market structure so that energy can be generated, distributed and consumed more efficiently and cost effectively; thereby achieving a more resilient, secure and reliable energy system,” according to it’s website. Founded in 2003, the Alliance is an advocate for change on both the national and state levels. Its members include utilities, IT companies, equipment vendors and new technology providers.

European Projects Taking Shape

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that more than US $16 trillion will be spent worldwide between 2003 and 2030 in pursuit of the Smart Grid vision. To date, several projects have been announced with large organizations like Iberdrola and EDP supporting the charge. Iberdrola has been working extensively on the definition and testing of a new open, public and non-proprietary telecom architecture to support not only smart metering functionality but also to progress towards the electricity networks of the future.

EDP has launched it’s InovGrid, an innovative initiative that aims to implement an “intelligent grid” during the next few years, through a new systems, communications and technological infrastructure that will integrate commercial and metering processes, network automation and management, and also control of distributed energy resources and micro-generation in Europe.

More recently an announcement has come out of Ireland that it will invest US $10.2 billion of it’s US $16 billion budget for renewable energy and cleantech projects in smart meters and smart networks.

Over the last few weeks announcements from ZigBee, Pepco, Gazprom, Siemens and eMeter have also been released relating to smart metering projects indicating the wealth of interest in the space over the last 6 months.

Smart Electric News, a new Business Intelligence Unit for the Smart Grid industry has announced the first Smart Electric Power Distribution summit. The summit, focusing exclusively on critical success factors for delivering the smart grid of the future, will take place in Amsterdam (April 21 – 22). The factors involved in deploying and implementing a Smart Grid network including technology updates, case study results, reducing time to market and securing project wins early will all be addressed. For more information visit;

Michael Setters is Director of Smart Electric News.

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