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Smart electricity grids: A very slow deployment in the EU. Egmont Paper No. 74, February 2015

Zgajewski, Tania (2015) Smart electricity grids: A very slow deployment in the EU. Egmont Paper No. 74, February 2015. [Policy Paper]

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    Summary. The European electricity sector will have to deal with a huge challenge in the decades to come. On the one hand, electrical power is increasingly substituted for other forms of energy. It has been forecast that electricity demand will increase in the future (notably because of new needs in transport and heat sectors), although it is currently stagnant, mainly because of the economic crisis. Unless a major alternative energy source is discovered, electricity will become the central energy pillar in the long term. On the other hand, electricity production remains uncertain and will depend on numerous factors: the growth of renewable energy and decentralized energy, the renewal of old power generation capacities, increased external dependency, CO2 charges, etc. This increases the demand for electricity networks that are more reliable, more efficient, and more flexible. Europe’s current electricity networks are ageing, and, as already indicated by the International Energy Agency, many of them will need to be modernized or replaced in the decades to come. Finally, the growing impact of energy trading also needs to be taken into account. These considerations explain the need to modernize the electric grid through various ICT means. This modernization alone may allow the grid to become more flexible and interactive, to provide real time feedback, more adaptation to a fluctuating demand, and finally to reduce the global electricity costs. The paper begins with a description of the EU definition of the term ‘smart grid’ (§ 1) and of the body in charge of advising the Commission (§ 2). The EU legal framework applicable to smart grids is also detailed (§ 3). It is a rather complex domain, connected to various regulations. The paper then examines three critical factors in the development of smart grids (and smart meters as a precondition). Standardization is quite complex, but absolutely essential (§ 4). Innovation is not easily put into action (§ 5). Finally, as digital insecurity has worsened dramatically in recent years, the security of electricity networks, and especially their multiplied electronic components, will become increasingly important (§ 6). Lastly, the paper provides a concise overview of the progress of smart grids in the EU in recent years (§ 7). In a nutshell, the conclusion is that progress is quite slow, many obstacles remain, and, given the appearance of many new regulatory problems, it would be useful to organize a review of the present EU strategy.

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    Item Type: Policy Paper
    Additional Information: D/2015/4804/291
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > energy policy (Including international arena)
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Egmont : Royal Institute for International Affairs > Egmont Papers
    Depositing User: Unnamed user with email
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2015 10:56
    Number of Pages: 39
    Last Modified: 23 Apr 2015 10:56

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