Technology Roadmap: Smart Grids
Release Date: 4 April 2011
Smart grids can play an important role in addressing increasingly untenable economic, environmental, and social trends in the supply and use of energy. By enabling increased awareness of system operation and better informed participation by electricity users, smart grids will increase electricity end-use efficiency while optimising network asset utilisation and increasing grid resiliency. They will also enable efficient integration of variable renewables and electric vehicles, as well as new products and services. This roadmap provides a consensus view from more than 200 government, industry, academia and consumer representatives on the current status of smart grid technologies, and charts a course for expanding their use from today to 2050.
Smart grids co-ordinate the needs and capabilities of all generators, grid operators, end-users and electricity market stakeholders. This allows the grid system to operate as efficiently as possible, minimising costs and environmental impacts while maximising system reliability, resilience and stability. Smart grids accomplish this optimisation by using digital and other advanced technologies to monitor and manage the transport of electricity from all generation sources to meet the varying electricity demands of end users. These technologies are essential if the global community is to achieve shared goals for energy security, economic development and climate change mitigation.
Unfortunately, existing misunderstandings of both what smart grids are and the physical and institutional complexity of electricity systems make it difficult to implement smart grids on the scale that is needed. This roadmap sets out specific steps and describes the milestones that will allow smart grids to help deliver a clean energy future over the coming years.
- The development of smart grids is essential if the global community is to achieve shared goals for energy security, economic development and climate change mitigation.
- No single actor can deliver smart grids; governments, the private sector and customer and environmental advocacy groups must work together to define electricity system needs and determine smart grid solutions.
- Several large-scale, system-wide demonstrations are urgently needed to determine solutions that can be deployed at scale, integrating the full set of smart grid technologies with existing electricity infrastructure.
- Developing countries and emerging economies may leapfrog directly to smart electricity infrastructure. Capacity building and targeted analysis is needed to determine specific needs and solutions in regulation and technology.
- Regulatory and market models – such as those addressing system investment, prices and customer participation – must evolve as technologies offer new options over the course of long-term, incremental smart grid deployment.
- Peak demand will increase between 2010 and 2050 in all regions. Smart grids deployment could reduce peak demand increases by 13% - 24% over this time frame in the four regions analysed in this roadmap.
- Building awareness and seeking consensus on the value of smart grids must be a priority, with energy utilities and regulators having a key role in justifying investments.
- Greater international collaboration is needed to share experiences with pilot programmes, to leverage national investments in technology development and to develop common smart grid technology standards that optimise and accelerate technology development and deployment while reducing costs for all stakeholders.
Energy Technology Perspectives 2012:
- Technology Roadmap – Smart Grids (report | foldout)
- Technology Roadmap – Smart Grids, Chinese Translation (report | foldout)
- Press release
- All Technology roadmaps
- Energy Technology Perspectives 2012