Grid Research and Development

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Ireland has one of the Smartest Grids in the world currently able to manage up to 60% renewables on the system.

A smart grid is an electricity network system that uses digital technology to monitor and manage the transport of electricity from all generation sources to meet the varying electricity demands of end users. Such grids are able to co-ordinate the needs and capabilities of all generators, grid operators, end users and electricity market stakeholders in such a way that they can optimise asset utilisation and operation and, in the process, minimise both costs and environmental impacts while maintaining system reliability, resilience and stability.

A Smart Meter provides additional features over those of the traditional electro-mechanical electricity meters that most people will have seen in a home.

  • It will facilitate the use of home energy management systems.
  • It will enable ways in which consumers can manage their electrical use remotely.
  • It facilitates the development of micro-generation and embedded storage.
  • It facilitates the use of electric vehicles and smart appliances.

During 2010 a major trial of Smart Metering was carried out. This is one of the biggest and most comprehensive evaluations of Smart Meters in the world. In the trial thousands of home consumers and some business consumers had smart meters installed. In May 2011, the CER completed a smart meter trial involving approximately 9000 homes and businesses.

The project assessed the performance of available smart metering systems and communication technologies and identified risks, issues, and information relevant to a cost-benefit analysis for a national smart metering rollout. The rollout saw single-phase and three-phase meters communicate over PLC, GPRS and 2.4GHz wireless mesh in various rural and urban locations. Smart-metering-enabled energy efficiency measures were tested for their impact on customer behaviour. Time-of-use tariffs and demand side information management tools such as in-home displays, detailed billing, and an online customer portal were introduced as part of the trial. The project team found that time spent ensuring a“plug-and-play” meter installation process was extremely beneficial, but still saw technical issues in 3% of installations.

The trial was completed in May 2011 and the CER published a report highlighting key learning that will be used to inform future decisions regarding electricity smart metering for residential consumers and SMEs in Ireland. The CER reported an overall reduction of 2.5% in residential electricity demand (8.8% reduction during peak times) and an 82% change in consumption patterns.

The in-home display was especially effective in reducing peak-time consumption, with 91% of residential customers saying it was important. Based on findings from the trial, the CER concluded that smart meters could yield net benefits of up to 174 million over 15 to 20 years taking into account customer bill reductions, efficiency, and environmental benefits. The Programme is now proceeding to the detailed technical specification phase to be followed by procurement in 2014.

The EPRI/ESB Networks Smart Grid project has four critical elements:

1. Renewable Integration 

The project team is trialing technologies to ensure that new wind farms are connected to the Grid in the most cost effective way including the use of Voltage boosters to control voltage rise. In addition, the use of the Wind Turbines own electronics to provide the voltage control and the development of a simplified high voltage sub station design to ultimately cut costs.

2. Energy Efficiency

Implementing technology advances to operate and design the network to minimize losses on the system as well as to allow customers to use their electricity consumption in a more efficient way. ESB Networks working with the Commission of Energy Regulation and Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland is carrying out a nationwide survey involving 6,500 Smart Meters to assess how customers can better manage their electricity consumption

3. Electric Transport 

The Smart Networks initiative supports the Government's electric vehicles target of 10% by 2020. ESB ecars, is currently installing 1,500 public charging points and 30 fast chargers in Ireland by the end of 2011. The Smart Grid initiative includes an assessment of the impacts on the electric distribution system associated with increasing the take up of electric vehicles. This includes a significant trial in South Dublin in which ESB Networks is assessing the impact on local distribution Networks.

4. Flexible Grid

The Smart Networks initiative is defining new technologies and control strategies which will be used to integrate demand side resources, and renewable generation while ensuring the ongoing operation of a reliable and secure network.

Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland,
Wilton House,
Wilton Place,
Dublin 2,

Tel: +353-1-8082100

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