The main challenge for future provision of electricity in Europe will be to adapt the current network of large carbon-based centralised generators to welcome new, smaller-scale, local, renewable power sources.
A European technology platform SmartGrids – Electricity Networks of the Future has presented its vision for the development of secure and sustainable electricity networks for Europe, which aim to make the best possible use of both large centralised generators and smaller distributed power sources to provide consumers with a highly reliable cost-effective power supply.
Europe’s current electricity architecture is based on the needs of a large, mostly carbon-based power generation, the power plants being often very far away from the final consumers. According to the Commission, 21% of Europe’s energy could be produced by renewable sources if the existing electricity grids were compatible with smaller-scale, local, power facilities such as wind turbines or solar panels.
Key elements of the SmartGrids future vision include:
- compatibility of the electricity network with new forms of energy resources and carriers (wind generators, fuel cells, solar panels)
- use of innovative techniques to increase the overall system efficiency leading to less pollution and cheaper prices;
- widespread use of information and communication technologies to develop new services and innovative markets.
“In the shorter term, to improve network security, increase trading between member states and support a real European electricity market we need a de facto single European grid,” said Science and Research Commissioner Janez Poto?nik.