ENEL - Europe United by Smart Grids
Investment in the development of smart grids has grown enormously since the turn of the millennium, with the Enel Group frequently acting as a leader and coordinator in Europe’s continent-wide smart grid projects
For 'clean energy' read 'smart grids', the key feature of the new global electricity model. The need for more energy efficiency, the development of renewable energy and the inclusion of consumers, who are increasingly becoming small energy producers, in the process all require the implementation of smart grids.
The new model of electricity production, distribution and consumption will rely on smart grids, which will be necessary across neighbourhoods, cities, nations and continental macro-regions. The European Union decided to develop the technology some time ago and now has an extremely interesting smart grid scene.
In Europe investment in smart grids has grown enormously. At the beginning of the millennium there was funding here and there, but from 2005 onwards funding for research and projects began to increase, and between 2008 and 2012 annual investments made by EU countries have exceeded €200million.
However within the EU there are two speeds of smart grid development, with countries that have been members for longer proceeding at a faster pace than those that joined it later. Between them the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark and Spain account for about 70 percent of ongoing smart grid projects.
Of the almost 300 smart grid development projects begun in Europe, more than 20 percent involve collaboration between utilities, IT companies and producers from a number of countries. This multinational model shows the two pillars of the smart grid future: the standardisation and integration of systems within Europe will be key for the construction of a continent-wide electricity market.
Enel is taking part in a number of joint smart grid projects and, due to its more than a decade's worth of experience also beyond the continent's borders, in many case it acts as a coordinator. The European Distribution System Operators for Smart Grid Association and the GRID4EU project are just two examples of European projects in which Enel promotes the development of large-scale smart solutions.
The widespread installation of smart meters in Europe is another demonstration of their potential on the continent. Members states have allocated €4billion for electronic meters, with the largest investor being Italy with €2.1billion, followed by Sweden (€1.5billion). According to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, by 2020 countries in the EU will have invested at least €30billion in installing some 180 million smart meters.