Smart Grid

November 06, 2012

Energy Network Operators in the Netherlands Learning from Smart Grid Projects Around the World

In its way to modernize its energy infrastructure, The Netherlands is currently involved in a number of smart grid projects and plans for many more. With an aim to get insight into the policy, regulatory and social aspects smart grids around the world, the country’s premier association of Energy Network Operators in the Netherlands, Netbeheer Nederland, has hired energy consulting, testing and certification company DNV KEMA Energy & Sustainability.

The information from this study will help inform network operators involved in current and future smart grid projects in the Netherlands, a news statement explained.

The study focused on the differences between continents, with respect to smart grid implementation and operations. For instance, the study pointed out that in the U.S., smart grids are mainly used to make variable energy rates possible and reduce peaks in electricity use. In Europe, the emphasis is on energy efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions, whereas in some parts of Asia the priority is on improving the reliability of the energy network.

The study concluded that smart grids can be used to counter peaks in energy consumption because they can be used with pricing incentives. However, a rates incentive alone is often insufficient to reduce demand. Consumer involvement is also necessary to achieve this. In order to increase consumers’ awareness on this issue, the study suggested the increased use of energy displays and smartphone applications. These will also lead to financial benefits of the consumers---the analysts argued.

The study also revealed that many consumers are not yet aware of the opportunities that smart grids offer. It is important that this changes in order to gain sufficient support for this new technology. The acceptance of end users ultimately determines the success of a smart grid.

Preconditions for energy transition

Smart grids are an important precondition to making the energy transition possible. Dutch network operators invest approximately 1.5 billion Euros ( $1.92 billion approximately) annually in the replacement and expansion of their grids. The Netbeheer Nederland report 'Networks for the future' showed that additional investment was needed before 2050 in order to adapt and 'smarten' the energy grids. An earlier cost-benefit analysis showed that smart grids are profitable, due to consumer behavioral adaptation in response to variable energy rates as well as to cost savings in the construction of the energy grid.

In order to make their investment practical, network operators should consider making sizeable investments first to gain smaller-scale experience with the different aspects of a smart grid. To that end, the network operators started a number of test sites, where these aspects are tested for feasibility in practice. The experiences are shared among the network operators and with other stakeholders, with the aim of using this knowledge to make the right choices for the future. Now, the results of the DNV KEMA study will be used for this purpose as well.

Recently, Alliander, DNV KEMA and KPN (News - Alert) teamed up to establish the European Knowledge Institute for Cyber Security.

Edited by Brooke Neuman