IBM Joins EcoGrid EU Smart Grid Project

  • Posted on: 14 October 2011
  • By: chw staff

IBM has joined a collaborative consortium to help develop an energy grid that uses at least 50 percent of renewable energy sources, such as wind power, solar energy and biogas. Led by a European Union-funded consortium, the EcoGrid EU project will demonstrate a smart energy grid that will allow smart devices to use renewable electricity based on near real-time pricing and availability.

The EcoGrid EU project will be piloted on the Danish island of Bornholm with 2,000 residents and commercial users, representing approximately every tenth house on the island. Using smart meters and a Web-based app, that runs on smartphones, tablets and PCs, consumers can schedule when to purchase electricity online and at what price. Project scientists believe that by making this data easily available, eco-conscious Danes will choose to purchase renewable energy over fossil fuels, which will result in cost savings. The portal will also enable utilities to manage pricing based on supply, demand and available storage capacity. Selected participants will begin the testing phase towards the end of next year.

With 16 partners from ten different countries, the demonstration will continue for the next 48 months with set goals to increase consumer interest in smart grids, and develop new technologies that will improve energy forecasting and cost balancing, as well as reduce the congestion and losses across the distribution grid.

EcoGrid EU is in support of the European Commission's 20/20/20 plan, which is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent, increase renewable energy usage by 20 percent and to reduce energy consumption through improved efficiencies by 20 percent by the year 2020. This goal is consistent with the progressive efforts in Denmark to increase its production of renewable energy to 50 percent of total generation by 2020 to support increased usage. The Danish Energy Agency has recently reported that renewable energy use is up by 14 percent.

"EcoGrid EU is an incredibly promising pilot project, in which Bornholm will become a test island in the future intelligent electricity system," said Lykke Friis, the former Minister for Climate and Energy, Denmark. "The results will not only be usable in Denmark and Europe, but all over the world. We need an intelligent electricity system which can integrate more wind power and other renewable energy sources. In order to make the setup work in the future, it is necessary to turn all resources in regional grids into active players, exactly as it will happen in Bornholm."

Consumers will be at the forefront of this project with smart controllers being installed in all of the participating homes. These will be used to automate select appliances such as dishwashers, heat pumps and electric water heaters as energy prices adjust in five-minute increments. In addition, residents will receive relevant information about their electricity production, consumption, and price points, adding a new level of awareness and participation that should lead to increased energy savings.

EcoGrid EU is a continuation of the EDISON (Electric Vehicles in a Distributed and Integrated Market using Sustainable Energy and Open Networks) project. In 2009, EDISON was launched to demonstrate a smart grid for the large-scale adoption of electric vehicles powered by wind energy. EcoGrid EU will take best practices and expand on EDISON by going beyond just electric vehicles into the home and office. Similar to EDISON, unused energy will be stored on electric vehicle batteries, but in addition, EcoGrid EU will also optimize appliance operation.

"By taking into account real-time conditions we can increase the use of renewable energy, balance grid load, reduce failures, and accommodate consumer preferences and their desire to reduce energy consumption," said Guido Bartels, General Manager, Energy and Utilities industry at IBM and Chairman, Global Smart Grid Federation. "The EcoGrid EU project combined with lessons learned from EDISON, demonstrates our steady movement towards a sophisticated smart grid that will be capable of managing the future requirements for energy."

Several partners from EDISON will also be part of EcoGrid EU, including Ostkraft, Siemens and IBM. Within the EDISON project, IBM researchers from IBM Denmark and Switzerland successfully developed a Cloud with advanced analytics that synchronized the charging of electric vehicles with the availability of renewable energy on the grid. This smart technology will also be the basis for the EcoGrid EU project to optimize the usage of the energy grid by monitoring demand to reduce outages and to set the real-time market price for energy. IBM is also teaming with Siemens to design the Web-based app that will allow consumers to better manage their energy consumption based on price.