The Smart Grids Debate in Germany and Europe

Essential for the transformation of the European energy system, deserving more attention and transparency SEFEP staff: Antonella Battaglini, November 2012

New information and control technologies (ICT) are about to fundamentally transform the electricity sector after having profoundly changed so many other industries. The introduction of “smart grids” challenges the traditional top-down control logic. It stands for real-time transparency, flexible management of resources, control through market mechanisms, and multiple interactions of a wide range of users throughout the system. Evidently, this raises fundamental new questions about management levels, responsibilities, control rights, data access, markets and market roles, as well as regulation.

“Smart grids”, initially understood as a merely technical infrastructure, are increasingly considered to be a complex concept involving not only hardware and some local control software, but also system-wide control logics, system concepts, market platforms, and even the role of market actors and regulators. While over the last decades the transmission grids and the coordination of large power plants have already become “smart” with the help of modern information and communication technologies, distributed generation with fluctuating renewable energy now requires to allow for a more active management also at the lower levels of the system where “distribution” grids had an essentially passive role.

The two papers aim at giving an overview on the issues, the different policy threads and forums as well as the active stakeholders in the discussion on smart grids at the German and EU level, and to show how this level relates to national debates.

The two papers can be downloaded here (Mapping Smart Grid Activities in Germany) and here (The Smart Grids Debate in Europe).

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