On June 3-4, 2015, the brightest minds in the power distribution industry will gather in Brussels for the first ever Smart Grid Event. They will discuss the future of the electric grid as the world transitions to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future. The international event includes presentations, workshops, product demonstrations and networking opportunities.
If you want to hear Paul Alvarez, president of the Wired Group and one of over 20 speakers get excited, just start talking about incentives in electrical distribution. Along with the excitement comes a measure of frustration. “Why aren’t more news organizations reporting on these issues?” he wonders. His frustration is shared by many in the power distribution industry and will be discussed at the Smart Grid Event held on June 3-4, 2015 in Brussels.
Stakeholders will gather to talk about what that energy marketplace of the future might look like and how to pull all of the pieces together. The challenge isn’t just building an intelligent switching system; it’s integrating renewable energy sources with old style power plants, managing a mountain of usage data to guide intelligent switches. Supporters also have to educate both utilities and end users on the benefits of smart grid technologies.
The scale of the challenge is enormous. Jeroen Scheer, manager energy transition at DSO Alliander, and another one of the event’s speakers envisions the energy systems of tomorrow as a giant marketplace. “For me it is all about creating and operating a Smart Energy Ecosystem.” he says. “Various market parties like consumers, system operators, market operators, retailers and traders participate will have to participate in this system.”
Pierre Marlard, market head at Atos, points out that information will flow both ways with the consumer taking a more active role in energy decisions. “Right now, the vast majority of distribution grids do not see anything at LV level, they fire and forget!” says Marlard. In the future consumers may be rewarded with lower rates by changing their habits of energy usage and that means feeding consumers real-time data on rates.
At least in the United States, implementing variable electrical rates and encouraging consumers to change when and how much electricity they use is going to be a tough sell. “Right now most utilities are incentivized to sell you as much electricity as possible,” says Paul Alvarez. Consumers using less electricity are also contributing less to the fixed maintenance costs of keeping up the transmission system. But shifting the fixed costs to consumers, through something like a connect charge, can shift those costs to the poorest consumers and discourage users from implementing power saving strategies.
Another key to driving both the distribution systems and making an electrical market more approachable to consumers is usage data. Turns out the energy marketplace of tomorrow is going to depend very heavily on a mountain of data. As Pierre Marlard points out, most people would be surprised to learn that the power company has little idea what happens to electricity after it leaves your neighborhood substation. One piece of that end user data puzzle is the smart meter. Smart meters will be core components when it comes to predicting energy demand. Convincing the public that household privacy will be respected will be critical to consumer acceptance of an expanded role for smart meters.
The Smart Grid Event is the brainchild of engineers Rik Luiten and Ron Visser, who put their own funds into organizing the event. “We felt it was important to develop a forum to discuss these challenges,” says Rik Luiten. Ron Visser continues: “There are many interesting developments in the world. We want to provide people a place to meet and exchange experiences.” The pair is also managing the online community Smart Metering & Smart Grids, founded in 2008 that today boasts over 26,000 industry professionals from around the world. More information on the Smart Grid Event can be found on its website at smartgridevent.comTagged with tED