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Home : ITU-T Home : ITU-T and Climate Change
 Forum on “Boosting Smart Grids through Energy Efficient ICT”
 Paris, France, 17 September 2012



ITU Report on “Boosting Energy Efficiency through Smart Grids”
Franco Davoli, Professor of Telecommunication Networks, DITEN-University of Genoa / CNIT-University of Genoa Research Unit, Italy

Climate changes are largely ascribed to greenhouse gas emissions, a significant percentage of which comes from the production of electricity from “brown” sources (mainly carbon and oil). Intimately connected with the massive integration of renewable resources for the production of electrical energy, a possible countermeasure for the “green” improvement of the electric system is the implementation of a “smart” energy grid, which is needed to balance the unpredictable generation from non-constant sources (sun, wind) with the continuously variable load. On the other hand, such smart grid may represent a unique opportunity to enable effective electrification of major parts of the so-called “third world” (where the availability of electrical services is not the norm, and where a “wise” use of resources should be fostered). As a matter of fact, the implementation of the smart grid will heavily rely on information and communication technologies (ICTs), owing to the necessity of a much tighter and timely monitoring and control of energy production and of the type of resources involved, in the face of a dynamically varying demand. In this framework, we will discuss the role of ICT in the smart grid with a view on energy efficiency, with the ultimate goal of hindering climate changes. In doing so, we will explicitly take into account the additional energy consumption of the ICT equipment itself, needed to implement the necessary monitoring and control strategies, as it turns out to be potentially quite significant. As a consequence, we will argue that any ICT architectural choice and implementation in support of the smart grid should focus first on its own efficiency, by carefully considering the trade-off between the gain in terms of energy saving and the cost of the operating devices. This aspect becomes particularly critical when customer premises and network access technologies are involved, owing to a non-negligible “scale” factor: indeed, even small and low-power devices (a few watts) may have a huge energy footprint when they are massively deployed (electrical grids have billions of customers). In particular, we will try to highlight the relevance of the existence of different networking solutions from the telecommunication perspective - each with different characteristics in terms of their own capabilities, coverage extension, numerousness, services’ suitability, and energy footprint - and to show how to leverage on the broad choice among the technologies and networks available to enable the most efficient, early, and economically viable implementation of smart grids.

Smart Energy and the four challenges posed by ITU
Miguel Toledano, Programme Manager Smart Energy, Cullen International

Controlling the usage of energy, increasing the share from renewable sources, making infrastructure and markets more efficient and incorporating intelligence for sustainability are the four main objectives of the European policy up to 2020.

Each of them can be monitored through national member states electricity regulation, in order to show indicators of “Smart Energy”. This presentation will show concrete benchmarks coming from the largest EU markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK), in particular on:
  • the reference models used by national legislators/regulators for smart meters. Smart meters that help savings by customers and utilities, at a time when electricity will play a more and more important role in the energy share, are being rolled out differently in each jurisdiction.
  • the current capability of cross-border interconnection in electricity networks between member states. The EU has committed to a single electricity market by 2014, capable of making supply available where it is needed, a challenge to meet for renewable electricity sources.
  • examples of deployment of specific communication architectures for the conventional medium-low voltage grid, at a time where electricity network operators are discussing how to design and finance their network technological upgrades.



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Updated : 2012-09-18