News | Smart Energy International News & insights for smart metering, smart energy & grid professionals in the electricity, water & gas industries. Thu, 24 Aug 2023 10:21:43 +0000 en-ZA hourly 1 News | Smart Energy International 32 32 India marks 3.6 million smart meters milestone Thu, 24 Aug 2023 11:00:00 +0000 Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture of Indian public sector undertakings operating under the country’s Ministry of Power, has announced installation of 3.6 million smart meters across India.

Installation is being coordinated under the JV’s smart meter national programme (SMNP), which is delivering smart meters to the states of Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar, NDMC-Delhi and Telangana.

The aim of the SMNP is to improve the billing and collection efficiencies of distribution companies (DISCOMs) operating in the country.

According to EESL, the smart meters are connected through a web-based monitoring system to help reduce commercial losses.

The smart meters are further hoped to enhance revenues and serve as an important tool in the country’s power sector reform.

Power sector reforms

Earlier this year in June, India‘s Ministry of Power announced ₹664 billion ($8 billion) in incentives for power sector reform across the country’s States.

The incentives will be granted in the form of borrowing permissions, aiming to encourage each state to undertake reforms to enhance the efficiency and performance of the power sector.

The financing will be made available via the 2021 to 2022 union budget.

Additionally, states the Power Ministry, ₹1.4 trillion ($17.4 billion) has been earmarked as an incentive to States for undertaking the reforms in the 2023 to 2024 fiscal year.

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To be eligible for the incentives, State governments must undertake a set of mandatory reforms and meet stipulated performance benchmarks.

The required reforms include:

• Reducing losses of public sector power distribution companies (DISCOMs) by the State Government
• Transparency in the reporting of financial affairs of the power sector, including payment of subsidies and recording of liabilities of Governments to DISCOMs and of DISCOMs to others
• Timely audits and rendition of financial and energy accounts
• Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements

UK energy regulator investigates domestic demand side response Thu, 24 Aug 2023 09:11:00 +0000 Ofgem has issued a call for input on how best to engage domestic consumers in demand side response (DSR) in the hopes of enabling the UK’s rising electricity consumption to better match its increasing number of intermittent renewable energy sources.

According to the regulator, domestic DSR, which entails consumers adjusting consumption in response to the needs of the energy system and being rewarded through reduced bills, is a key element in achieving Government plans to decarbonise.

New market reforms and regulations are being developed in the UK to manage the expanding domestic DSR market, underpinned by digitalisation and decentralisation, which enables better monitoring and response to grid activity.

However, for domestic DSR to work at scale, states Ofgem, it also needs large scale consumer participation. Ofgem is thus seeking input from energy sector stakeholders on how to facilitate the transition to consumers becoming flexible energy consumers.

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Marzia Zafar, deputy director of digitalisation and innovation at Ofgem, said: “domestic demand side response is about optimising the way we consume energy, so it works best for a decarbonised energy system and consumers. The key to unlocking high consumer uptake is making it both attractive and easy to participate in.”

“It is not Ofgem’s role to specify what this domestic DSR journey should look like, but it is important that it is not left to chance.”

According to Ofgem, it’s anticipated that in the UK there will be many different ways for consumers to engage with Domestic DSR both manually and via automation.

The simplest and most common method of engagement, they add, is expected to be automated DSR, whereby consumers configure smart devices with default off-peak time settings, optimising consumption against time-of-use tariffs and choosing to have a third party manage their participation in flexibility markets.

Zafar added that “as the regulator, we are seeking input from a wide range of stakeholders including those working in industry, the providers of smart home and transport assets, consumer representatives and other parties’ interested in flexibility.

“This will help build a shared vision of what the emerging domestic DSR customer journey should look like and how to make that vision a reality.”

Ofgem’s inquiry comes in as energy demand in the country continues to grow with the proliferating number of clean tech assets, such as EVs and electric heating systems, coming online and adding stress to the UK’s electricity grid.

The call for input is now open and will close on Friday 29 September 2023.

Introducing human behaviours to the smart grid Thu, 24 Aug 2023 07:35:00 +0000 South Dakota Mines university professor Long Zhao has secured a grant to study human behaviour patterns for incorporation in the next-generation smart grid.

The human factor, when it comes to the use of distributed generation such as rooftop solar and its delivery to the grid is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to the modern grid.

Zhao, who directs Mines’ Smart Grid and Energy Research Lab, intends to study this human factor and this in turn could be incorporated so that the grid could predict how it will then be used by the humans.

Zhao says that while there is a great deal of effort underway right now to build the technology and infrastructure needed to run smart grids, the one thing missing from current research is the human factor.

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“The most important part of the equation is people, and we are trying to understand human behaviour to help build the most robust and fully functional smart grid models.”

The grant from the National Science Foundation is worth almost $200,000 over the next two years.

Specifically the intention is to introduce a data-driven approach to analyse and explicitly model power demand behaviour at the household level using real-world long-term data.

The goal is to reveal macro- and micro-residential power demand patterns, through matching 15-minute resolution smart meter data with consumer surveys, along with local parcel data and meteorological data, to achieve a comprehensive understanding of residential power demand behaviour at a disaggregated level.

This should then lay the foundation for research focused on data-driven analysis and modelling for next-generation power grids.

The primary contribution of the project is intended to be the development of a data-driven temperature-time-day-based model for residential power demand behaviour, relying solely on real-world data.

Zhao anticipates that the research also should have wider impacts, with the proposed model potentially readily expanded to other domains such as water usage.

It also should contribute to better understanding incentive effectiveness in changing consumer behaviour, particularly in green consumption.

Alongside the project a new ‘Smart Grid and Data Science’ curriculum will be developed, combining power engineering and social science.

Partners in the project include the local coop West River Electric Association and the chamber of commerce Elevate Rapid City.

Smoke impact on solar PV

The new project comes as Zhao has just completed another study on the impact of wildfire smoke on solar PV.

While solar energy production is likely to be impacted by low-level smoke, the project found that the output of individual solar panels can be reduced by nearly 50%, even when the smoke is present at high altitudes and air quality near the ground is not significantly impacted.

Moreover, the fluctuations vary with the intensity of the smoke, which often varies, indicating the importance of taking this into account as solar becomes more widespread in wildfire-prone areas and beyond given the propensity for the smoke to potentially travel large distances in the air.

Anglian Water uses satellites to detect hard-to-find water leaks Thu, 24 Aug 2023 06:22:09 +0000 Anglian Water reports saving millions of litres of water with space-based detection of water leaks that are otherwise invisible.

The company, which supplies water to almost 7 million people mainly in the east of England, launched the programme in December 2022. Based on two complete scans of its service area has reported saving over 2Ml/d – enough to supply 8,000 homes in the region.

Chris Utton, Leakage Intensive Delivery Manager for Anglian Water, says that as much of the company’s region is rural, the satellites are particularly helping to detect any leaks in these areas where traditional monitoring is much more difficult.

“Over the last 30 years, we’ve reduced leaks in our network by 38%, despite putting a third more water into supply to meet the increasing demand of our rapidly growing customer base,” he says.

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“We know we must go even further as it’s one of the most important things to our customers and the wider environment. Gone are all the low-hanging fruits and quick wins, we’re now into the realms of tracking down really hard-to-find leaks, long before they’re visible to the naked eye, to fix them quicker and save as much precious water as possible.”

Anglian Water is working with water solution company SUEZ and California-based earth observation data provider Asterra – the only service in the world to use L-Band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) with patented technology and analysis to find leaks from the satellite images.

The satellites work by sending a pulse down from space and measuring interaction with materials on the Earth as backscatter, in this case the signature of drinking water below the Earth’s surface, which may suggest a hidden leak in the water network.

The satellite imagery is expected to form a regular component in Anglian Water’s leak detection armoury but ultimately it is only one of them, with others including thermal imaging drones and naval hydrophone equipment.

Anglian Water was also recently allocated funding to expand its smart meter rollout as part of its leak reduction plans.

Since the first smart meters were installed in 2020, the company has reported helping customers find and resolve more than 100,000 leaks at their properties.

UK and Australian energy trading portfolios in attempted hack Wed, 23 Aug 2023 11:00:57 +0000 Energy One, a supplier of software products and services to wholesale energy, environmental and carbon trading markets in the Asia Pacific and UK and Europe, has put out a statement confirming a cyber-attack affecting corporate systems in the UK and Australia.

Details on affected companies have not been released, although the company is conducting an analysis into potentially affected systems.

Energy One offers solutions and services, managing the “entire wholesale energy portfolio” for customers in energy trading and logistics, serving energy retailers, generators, users, customers and traders, ranging from startups to multinational organisations.

According to the company’s statement, immediate steps were taken to limit the impact of the incident. The company engaged cybersecurity specialists, CyberX, and alerted the Australian Cyber Security Centre and UK authorities.

As part of the company’s efforts to mitigate the effects of the attack, certain links were disabled between its corporate and customer-facing systems.

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The company is currently coordinating an ongoing inquiry and response into the incident to determine what information and systems were affected.

Another priority, states the company, is determining the initial point of entry.

Commenting on the incident was Camellia Chan, CEO and co-founder of Flexxon, an AI cybersecurity specialist company, who stated that “the Energy One cyber-attack demonstrates the increasing risk threat actors pose to critical national infrastructure (CNI).”

According to Chan, CNI marks prime targets for cybercriminals as their “systems are underpinned by a myriad of complex devices, meaning the consequences if these are infiltrated can be devastating and put real people at risk. For example, SSE supplies gas and electricity to seven million homes and is an Energy One customer.”

Cybersecurity gaps and QR codes

States Chan: “To meet the fast-evolving threat landscape, businesses need to be proactive in assessing security gaps and address those with innovative and proven tools. Using low-level AI at the hardware level in devices, for example, is a game-changer.

“Unlike traditional cybersecurity measures, this robust last line of defence protects against sophisticated attacks while removing the need for human intervention.

“Ultimately, for all organisations, but CNI in particular, cyber security must be an integral part of IT systems. One Energy shows us you can’t afford to have weak spots.”

The announcement of the attack on Energy One comes as cybersecurity has been growing as a concern for those in the energy sector.

In the same week as Energy One announcement, US-based computer security services company Cofense published an analysis of an observed large phishing campaign.

The campaign utilised QR codes targeting Microsoft credentials of users from various sectors; “the most notable target” states the company in a blog post, was “a major energy company in the US, saw about 29% of the over 1,000 emails containing malicious QR codes.”

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According to Cofense author Nathaniel Raymond, the energy company was the main focus of the campaign, which sent out phishing emails containing PNG images with phishing links or redirects through a QR code, with the majority of them being Bing redirect URLs.

Raymond states that QR codes can reach inboxes with hidden malicious links. These links can also be embedded into other images to disguise the QR code as an image attachment, or embedded image in a PDF file.

“While automation such as QR scanners and image recognition can be the first line of defense, it is not always guaranteed that the QR code will be picked up, especially if it’s embedded into a PNG or PDF file.

“Therefore, it is also imperative that employees are trained not to scan QR codes in emails they receive. This will help ensure that accounts and businesses security remain safe,” concludes Raymond.

ABB to co-develop edge computing for decentralised networks Wed, 23 Aug 2023 08:30:14 +0000 Swiss tech major ABB is investing in a strategic partnership with Pratexo, an edge-to-cloud acceleration platform company, to co-develop edge computing solutions for decentralised electrical networks.

The partnership involves a minority investment in Pratexo through ABB’s venture capital unit, ABB Technology Ventures (ATV). Financial details of the investment were not disclosed.

Pratexo’s technology platform supports IoT and AI initiatives which demand compute power at the edge. The company’s technology enables the rapid set up of systems that can process huge amounts of data generated by IoT sensors and run advanced analytics in real time close to the location of the device, rather than in the cloud.

ABB’s Electrification Service will leverage Pratexo’s industry-leading, no-code development platform, Pratexo Studio, to accelerate and revolutionise how edge-to-cloud digital solutions are designed for customers, allowing them to make better decisions for future operations.

According to ABB, the collaboration will help customers deploy edge-based networks and solution architectures that provide real time insights, with the added benefits of reduced cloud data transfer volumes, improved data privacy and security and the ability to run when not connected to the internet.

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One example cited by ABB is customised, decentralised software solutions that allow distribution grid operators to manage, monitor and assess electrical systems in real time, identify what could potentially be causing machine faults and optimise at the local level to adjust to rapidly changing circumstances such as identifying and responding to changes in power availability and consumption.

“We are in a unique position to support customers in their digital transformation regardless of what stage they are at. Investing in and partnering with innovative startups like Pratexo advances our technological services capabilities to provide enhanced industry 4.0 business outcomes to our customers,” said Stuart Thompson, president of ABB’s Electrification Service Division.

Added Blaine Mathieu, CEO of Pratexo: “The last 20 years of IT have been mostly about centralising computing into the cloud. The next 10 will be about balancing that with a hybrid edge-to-cloud approach – doing the right compute at the right place and at the right level. Our close collaboration with ABB will further enable and accelerate that transition.”

The partnership is ABB’s sixth venture capital investment of 2023 and helps expand the company’s portfolio of solutions that support decarbonisation.

Smart metering for large consumers in Germany in development Wed, 23 Aug 2023 08:06:45 +0000 A load profile measurement (RLM) smart metering system is reported to be becoming available for I&C and other large consumption points in Germany.

The smart metering system is under development by energy companies E.ON and Netze BW, technology suppliers Robotron Datenbank-Software and Power Plus Communications and manufacturer Landis+Gyr.

The companies have announced that the system is based on the integration of an RLM meter to a smart meter gateway with testing having proven its marketability and timely availability.

The large consumption points in Germany account for about three-quarters of the energy consumed in the country, although in number they amount to only around 1% of the total 53 million metering points, i.e. about 530,000.

Under the Digitisation Act, at least 20% of the load profile measurement points in Germany must be equipped with smart metering by 2028.

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“With this technical solution, we are taking a further step towards digitising the RLM measuring points with smart meter gateways,” commented Jürgen Kramny, Head of Metering Systems at Netze BW.

Malte Sunderkötter, Managing Director of E.ON Grid Solutions with responsibility for the smart meter rollout in the E.ON group, said the solution has the potential to become a new industry standard.

“To this end, we are building on broad acceptance among customers, users and manufacturers.”

Specifically, the solution is based on the connection of a Landis+Gyr RLM meter to Robotron’s back-end system via the controllable local systems (CLS) interface of Power Plus Communications’ smart meter gateway.

The solution fulfils all the specific RLM use cases and also makes the metered values available for subsequent billing with storage in the meter – key in the event of a temporary interruption of the communication link to the meter, given the high levels of energy involved.

In addition, the local interfaces of the meter can be used for specific industry use cases, thus taking into account the different requirements of customers in this market segment, the companies have reported.

The solution is available in a test environment and the intent is to further optimise it as it evolves.

Workforce management solution to support Israel’s smart meter rollout Wed, 23 Aug 2023 07:19:29 +0000 Sweden’s isMobile is to provide its Field Service Management solution in partnership with Ericsson.

The solution, designed to empower the mobile workforce and increase its operational efficiency and delivered on the Coordinator platform, is intended to serve as a deployment tool handling all stages of the meter exchange project.

The smart meter rollout is an initiative of the Israel Electric Corporation.

The first phase of 565,000 smart meters for residential customers has been awarded to Landis+Gyr, with the potential to extend the order up to 4.2 million units.

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In addition, Landis+Gyr will provide the head-end system and services for the maintenance of the existing meter data management system and related applications.

“We have been working for a long time together with Ericsson and we are thrilled to have a part in this extensive project,” comments Jonas Ljungdahl, Business Development Manager at isMobile.

The installation of the smart meters is a key component of Israel’s energy sector reform, which is underway until the end of 2024 and will see Israel Electric focus increasingly on transmission and distribution and reduce its activity in generation and supply – this latter opening to competition.

Further, its system administrator role has been taken over by the newly formed Noga company.

isMobile provides a range of solutions from smart meter rollouts to logistics equipment tracking.

Among other recent initiatives announced is a partnership with Tech Mahindra to enhance its AMI Command and Control Centre offering with smart metering operations and field service management.

Self-consumption V2G system launched for Chinese national park Tue, 22 Aug 2023 14:53:52 +0000 Shanghai-based automotive company NIO has announced the completion of what they are calling the world’s first V2G photovoltaic self-consumption system in the Qilian Mountain National Park.

The V2G self-consumption station is operational within Qilian Mountain National Park’s long-term national research base, providing continuous support for ecological patrols and clean, low-carbon energy utilisation within the park.

According to NIO in a press release, the system marks the first global photovoltaic self-consumption system with V2G (vehicle to grid), composed of photovoltaic power stations, bidirectional V2G charging piles and all-electric vehicles.

V2G systems allow EVs to serve as distributed mobile energy units, charging during low-demand periods and supplying power during peak times.

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The technology, through the deployment of source-network-storage-load, states NIO, achieves local self-production and self-marketing of green energy and minimises the impact on the external environment.

Image courtesy NIO.

V2G bidirectional charging piles offer EV charging services; with the reverse discharge function, surplus vehicle-stored energy is supplied back to the grid for nighttime or emergency use within the park.

Photovoltaic power energises the system, with an annual average output of about 690,000kWh, fully covering the EV energy consumption within the park.

Surplus energy can cater to over 50% of other power needs, resulting in an estimated annual carbon reduction of around 55 tonnes.

Clean Parks initiative

NIO and WWF previously collaborated together to support the ecological construction of Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park, as well as Giant Panda National Park, and became strategic partners of the Clean Parks ecological co-conservation plan in April 2022.

The V2G announcement marks the commencement of the third phase of the Clean Parks and WWF ecological co-conservation programme.

The self-consumption facilities were established by Clean Parks in collaboration with NIO, Astronergy and One Earth Nature Foundation in Qilian Mountain National Park, China, on the eve of the Second National Park Forum, under the coordination of the Qinghai Forestry and Grassland Bureau and the WWF.

NREL to test energy management system at clean tech laboratory Tue, 22 Aug 2023 09:03:02 +0000 A Strata Grid Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) will be implemented at NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) in the hopes of “developing a powerful toolbox” for existing and future use cases.

US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) chose DERMS provider Smarter Grid Solutions (SGS) to implement their Strata Grid DERMS at the facility.

ESIF is an energy systems integration laboratory facility focused on developing and deploying clean energy technologies and resilient distribution systems.

According to the ESIF’s research project manager, Sarah Williams, “DERMS-related research is core to the integrated, multi-disciplinary work happening at ESIF.

“We have confidence we are developing a powerful toolbox with SGS to address both existing and future use cases.”

DERMS are known for enabling enhanced control and visibility over assets for utilities and electric cooperatives, allowing operators to manage incoming renewable energy resources and grid-edge devices for improved performance of the electrical system.

According to SGS in a press release announcing their selection, example use cases of the Strata Grid DERMS include the autonomous operation and coordination of modern grid devices.

Within the system distributed energy resources (DERs) are leveraged for improved grid planning and operation, as well as demand-side management and customer engagement through bidirectional communication with utilities and energy market operations.

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According to SGS, the system is the “only DERMS software to combine the grid and market optimisation with real-time control”.

According to the ESIF, when it comes to their integrated energy capabilities, the lab includes tools and approaches to enable better integration with the electric grid and other energy infrastructure, diversification of integrated energy streams for resilience, cybersecurity risk management and customer participation in smart load management and energy generation.

The ESIF also states it has “hundreds of commercially available” DERs, including inverters, electric vehicles, batteries, home energy systems, solar panels, fuel cells and more, which can be integrated ‘in-the-loop’ with simulations for realistic experimentation.

According to SGS’ statement, NREL sought a DERMS capable of replicating utility control and the monitoring of distributed devices from small residential systems to the grid substation level.

“SGS is excited to partner with NREL on their research in the DERMS realm. With NREL’s research leadership and SGS’ industry-leading DERMS solutions, we expect to see very interesting and exciting learnings from this partnership,” said Jon Grooters, director of utility solutions at SGS.

Wireless power transfer standards for EVs in the making Tue, 22 Aug 2023 08:10:42 +0000 The electric vehicle (EV) charging system standards association CharIN has formed a new wireless power transfer task force.

The task force, which is planned to kick off its activities in early September, is aimed to drive the adoption and standardisation of wireless charging solutions for EVs globally.

Established in cooperation with association members Siemens AG, the wireless charging technology company WiTricity Corporation and German charging solution provider MAHLE chargeBIG, the taskforce is intended to seek to close existing gaps to ensure the successful integration and utilisation of wireless power transfer technology in the evolving electric mobility landscape.

The taskforce will actively work towards harmonising standards in wireless power transfer technology for charging EVs.

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Defining the respective applicability of wireless charging will play a crucial role in its integration into diverse EV platforms.

The taskforce also will seek to define rigorous test procedures and certification guidelines for interoperability, in order to ensure that wireless charging solutions are reliable, efficient and compatible across different platforms.

Additionally, the taskforce will focus on clearing the co-existence of relevant technologies for wireless power transfer to foster a cohesive ecosystem for the future of EV charging.

Members of the taskforce with expertise in wireless charging technology are now being sought from both CharIN members and non-members.

Wireless charging developments

Wireless charging is becoming increasingly popular for mobile and other devices, with EVs an obvious opportunity due to the convenience it offers.

Both static and dynamic options are available, enabling charging when parked in a garage or driving on highways respectively, with the former aimed primarily at homeowners and charging station operators and the latter initially at least for trucks and other high-use vehicles such as buses and taxis.

Its use so far is limited, however, but that is set to change with wireless charging now delivering efficiencies and charging times that match or even better those of traditional plug-in chargers, according to developers such as WiTricity.

As an example of recent development, WiTricity has entered into a partnership to deliver its technology in Europe with ABT e-Line, which initially will upgrade the VW ID.4 to support wireless charging and subsequently other VW, Audi and Porsche models thereafter.

In another example, another CharIN member, the Israeli company Electreon is to equip a section of the French A10 motorway southwest of Paris with dynamic wireless charging and a stationary wireless charging station initially for fleet use.

A third CharIN member InductEV recently opened a high power wireless charging R&D centre at its King of Prussia, Pennsylvania headquarters.

In the US there also is a move to introduce a grant programme for wireless EV charging with a proposal for $250 million to be made available for its introduction on roads and bus routes, in parking areas and at airports among other locations.

Avangrid to harness AI for the grid Tue, 22 Aug 2023 06:54:31 +0000 Iberdrola subsidiary Avangrid has assembled a seven-member team to develop AI and machine learning-based systems for grid management.

The seven-member ‘Data science and analytics’ team drawn from diverse fields including astrophysics, healthcare and finance is charged with creating three different systems, Predictive Health Analytics, GeoMesh and HealthAI.

Each will take existing data from Avangrid companies’ electricity grids and analyse it to forecast future performance of the grid, determine the condition of grid equipment or target at-risk locations for inspections and investment.

Ultimately, this should lead to increased reliability for the 2.31 million customers served by these companies, i.e. Central Maine Power, New York State Electric & Gas, Rochester Gas and Electric and United Illuminating.

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“We’re reimagining what’s possible for a utility when it comes to data science and analytics,” said Pedro Azagra, Avangrid CEO.

“Traditionally, we’ve partnered with third parties to integrate this type of cutting-edge technology into our business. Now, we have the talent in-house to create machine learning models that Avangrid will own.”

The ‘Predictive health analytics’ system is focused on taking a proactive approach to determine the condition of substation equipment such as circuit breakers and enable replacement before an outage occurs.

Traditionally, equipment is replaced primarily based on age or if it malfunctions and causes an outage. ‘Predictive health analytics’ will determine equipment’s overall health and life expectancy based on numerous factors, including age, frequency of use, and manufacturer and maintenance notifications.

The ‘GeoMesh’ project is mapping Avangrid’s service areas to identify the strengths and weaknesses of its networks to help forecast its performance during both blue-sky and storm scenarios.

To accomplish this, ‘GeoMesh’ breaks Avangrid’s service areas into small sections, for each of which predictions can be made based on data points, such as average wind speed, precipitation type and amount, outage history and reason, population and density of tree limbs and other vegetation.

The ‘HealthAI’ project is analysing Avangrid’s existing millions of high-resolution photos of its street-level distribution system to identify the assets visible in them and to catalogue their health, with a view to increasing awareness of their health and to help identify areas of concern.

Currently, the AI system is being trained to correctly identify the grid equipment in the photos and then it is intended to learn to analyse and determine the health of that equipment, e.g. if a cross arm is broken or if a wire is sagging.

With ownership of the AI systems, Avangrid anticipates their continual improvement, improving their cost-effectiveness.

US grants $48mn for grid resilience in states and tribal nations Mon, 21 Aug 2023 13:56:28 +0000 In the face of worsening climate impacts on the US electricity system, the Department of Energy (DOE) has announced funding of $48.4 million to drive grid resilience in three US states and nine tribal nations.

The funding forms part of US President Biden’s Investing in America agenda; selected communities form the sixth cohort of the Grid Resilience State and Tribal Formula Grants to help modernise the electric grid in the face of climate-driven extreme weather and natural disasters.

“From remote and rural communities to urban centres, it is essential that every pocket of America has a strong and reliable energy grid that can deploy cleaner, cheaper power to homes and businesses, said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.

“Thanks to the transformative investments in grid infrastructure under President Biden’s Investing in America agenda and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are preparing the nation for a more resilient, clean energy future.”

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The following states were selected for funding:

• Alaska will receive $22 million to reduce the likelihood and consequences of natural hazard events like winter storms, extreme temperatures and landslides causing disruption to normal grid operations and critical facilities.

• Utah will receive $12 million to reduce the overall negative impacts of disruptive events on Utah’s residential and commercial power end users.

• Virginia will receive $11 million to conduct enhanced grid modelling for transmission and distribution planning to reduce disruptions by informing strategic investment and deployment of innovative technologies. Grant funds will be used to address outdated or failing energy infrastructure equipment and materials like power lines, power poles, transformers and bucket trucks serving Virginia communities.

The following tribal communities were selected for funding:

• Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation will receive $458,123 to decrease the frequency and duration of electrical outages on the Reservation and address the energy burden experienced by low-income tribal members and disadvantaged communities.

• Chalkyitsik Village will receive $112,439 to support a continuous supply of power in the system and will improve grid reliability by decreasing the number of outages and improving the ability to recover after severe weather events. The grant funding will also be used to develop battery energy storage for critical facilities.

• Citizen Potawatomi Nation will receive $1.3 million to decrease the frequency and duration of electrical outages on the Reservation and address the energy burden experienced by low-income tribal members and disadvantaged communities.

• Fort Sill Apache Tribe will receive $684,000 to ensure critical tribal facilities are not impacted by disruptive events such as extreme weather and will implement improved controls, automation and communication technology to enhance local grid operations and control.

• Galena Village, otherwise known as aka Louden Village, will receive $112,894 to support a continuous supply of power to consumers, reduce outage risks, develop projects and approaches for backup power and advance partnerships with utilities to develop clean energy.

• Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians will receive $183,155 to ensure critical tribal community facilities are not impacted by extreme weather and other disruptive events and address the energy burden faced by the tribal community.

• Native Village of Port Graham will receive $181,493 to support battery storage for critical facilities, maintain a continuous supply of power that is acceptable to consumers and reduce outage risks and improve the ability to recover from disruptive events.

• Seneca Nation of Indians will receive $479,021 to modernise the electric grid, ensure critical community facilities are not impacted by extreme weather events and address the energy burden experienced by low-income tribal members.

• Summit Lake Paiute Tribe will receive $115,833 to enable investments in grid modernisation, ensure critical facilities are not impacted by disruptive events by providing backup power to enhance system adaptive capacity and reduce disruptions to grid operations from extreme weather events.

Over the next five years, the Grid Resilience State and Tribal Formula Grants will distribute a total of $2.3 billion to States, Territories, and federally recognised tribes based on a formula that includes factors such as population size, land area, probability and severity of disruptive events, and a locality’s historical expenditures on mitigation efforts.

The States, Territories, and tribes will then award these funds to complete a diverse set of projects, with priority given to efforts that generate the greatest community benefit while providing clean, affordable and reliable energy.

Since May of this year, DOE has distributed more than $455.5 million in Grid Resilience Formula Grants due to the Investing in America Agenda.

AI to fundamentally change current systems in the energy sector – experts Mon, 21 Aug 2023 09:02:47 +0000 Artificial Intelligence (AI) is to play a significant role in the energy sector and will simplify decision-making when it comes to analysing consumer patterns and their economic impact.

This was one of the key messages from Alan Winde, Premier of the Western Cape province of South Africa, who hosted an Energy Digicon under the theme What role will Artificial Intelligence play in the future of energy generation?

Keynote speaker Martin Svensson, co-director of AI Sweden, said looking ahead, AI will impose greater challenges on the energy sector.

Citing the conversion of the automotive sector to a fully electric-based one, Svensson said the question is how to build the new system by harnessing AI.

Svensson said that in the future, individuals would also be able to produce their own energy, largely from solar power and AI applications would be integrated into this.

“Imagine a future where we are our own energy producers and what we produce we will be able to trade and have a system that optimises that from a financial perspective.” 

Forging a new energy system

Referencing think-tank RethinkX’s research – Rethinking Energy 2020-2030 – which says that we are on “the cusp of the fastest, deepest, most profound disruption of the energy sector in over a century”, Svensson said the current system will be disrupted by a new one.

RethinkX says that with most disruptions, this one is being driven by the convergence of several key technologies whose costs and capabilities have been improving on consistent and predictable trajectories.

These are solar photovoltaic power, wind power and lithium-ion battery energy storage. 

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“Our analysis shows that 100% clean electricity from the combination of solar, wind, and batteries (SWB) is both physically possible and economically affordable across the entire continental United States as well as the overwhelming majority of other populated regions of the world by 2030,” said RethinkX.

“Adoption of SWB is growing exponentially worldwide and disruption is now inevitable because by 2030 they will offer the cheapest electricity option for most regions. Coal, gas, and nuclear power assets will become stranded during the 2020s, and no new investment in these technologies is rational from this point forward.”

Energy systems run completely on renewable energy sources

Svensson said the new energy system will look completely different to the current one. He said, for a province like the Western Cape, the future system could be one without loadshedding. This would be achieved through a system that would be 100% solar, wind and battery based. 

“This is not driven by the current issues you face or by climate activism, but economical forces. That’s why I’m confident this will happen. There is a lot of positive opportunities.”

Svensson said solar and wind are already the cheapest new-generation options. It also costs less than existing coal, gas and nuclear power plants. The cost of SWB systems will fall another 70% by 2030, making disruption “inevitable”.

In terms of the Western Cape, Svensson said the region could have a “future of energy abundance.”

Based on modelling from California in the US, which has a similar solar and wind profile to the Western Cape, Svensson said in the next 10 years, the province could generate 14GW of solar, 1.7GW of wind and 80GWh of energy storage.

“This ‘super power’ will be enough to electrify the entire transportation sector and more,” said Svensson. He said the province had already started on this journey.

“This is within reach… The opportunity is here to accelerate this. This will solve the current situation,” said Svensson.

In terms of scepticism around AI, Svensson said it was important to learn and understand AI to help mitigate any possible risks it may pose. 

“We need to learn how to use it, but we do need to learn how to manage risks over time.”

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AI to play a huge role in the energy space

Special Advisor to the Premier on Energy, Alwie Lester, said AI will start to play a lot more of a critical role in the energy space.

“With the advent of AI, you could have a dynamic system that is managed by information and data that’s readily available and processed quite quickly,” Lester said.

“Typically, you could have a system operator that responds to things very differently based on AI as opposed to the conventional way we are responding to the system at the moment.”

“In the general energy space, I think we will start to see AI play a lot more of a critical role because you’re sitting with millions and millions of terabytes of information, especially the energy information but also economic and consumer information,” Lester added.

“And if you have the ability to sort of link these, your decisions around what energy at what point and at what price becomes rather easier when you have a system that can do this for you. The opportunity for AI to play a bigger role, particularly in the energy space is huge.

“We need to encourage the industry to look at this more holistically and not just try and solve one problem with it.

“But also look at it as part of the industry going forward.” 

Originally published by Yunus Kemp on ESI.

New York funds LDES demo projects Mon, 21 Aug 2023 08:38:06 +0000 New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced nearly $15 million in awards to four long duration energy storage demonstration projects.

Form Energy received the largest award of $12 million. The company plans to develop, design and construct a 10MW/1,000MWh iron-air battery system with a project location still to be determined. Form Energy has signed deals to deploy its battery with utilities such as Xcel Energy, Southern Company, and Great River Energy, and recently broke ground on a commercial-scale battery plant in West Virginia.

Ecolectro, Inc. received $1.08 million to scale-up the company’s polymer chemistry and materials it expects to significantly reduce the cost of producing hydrogen by electrolysis and create a drop-in replacement for current designs. This project entails scaling laboratory-proven technologies with engineering and validation prototypes to build and test 10kW electrolysis units. The electrolyser will be deployed in a pilot demonstration in partnership with Liberty Utilities in Massena, New York.

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PolyJoule, Inc. received $1.03 million. The company plans to install a 2MWh, 167kW PolyJoule modular battery storage system in partnership with Eastern Generation at its Astoria Generating Station located in Queens, New York. This demonstration aims to prove the safety, technical, operational and economic merits of the PolyJoule Conductive Polymer BESS in a densely populated urban setting.

Urban Electric Power (UEP) received $703,965 to install a 100kW/1MWh battery storage system, anchored by the company’s rechargeable zinc alkaline battery technology. The proposed project will be designed for 10- to 24-hour applications at commercial and industrial facilities. The project is located in Pearl River, New York.

In addition to these awards, the state also opened up $8.15 million in funding to support innovative long duration energy storage solutions, devices, software, controls and other complimentary technologies yet to be commercialised.

Officials say project submissions should advance, develop or field-test hydrogen, electric, chemical, mechanical or thermal-electric storage technologies that will address renewable integration challenges, such as grid congestion, hosting capacity constraints and siting in New York City.

New York State has a goal to install 3,000 MW of energy storage by 2030.

Originally published on Power Engineering.

Flexibility record set in GB Mon, 21 Aug 2023 06:11:08 +0000 Britain’s electricity network companies tendered a record 4.6GW of capacity on local flexibility markets last year, with 1.9GW contracted, the Energy Networks Association (ENA) has reported.

The ENA states its figures show that more than 70% of the contracted capacity is made up of low-carbon technologies, including stored energy accounting for about one-third, solar and water.

It is also the highest amount of the service tendered in Great Britain.

Compared with 2021-2022, the 2022-2023 year was 1GW up on tendered flexibility, although only marginally up on the contracted.

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Moreover, the current year is on track to record similarly high levels at around 4.6GW of tendered flexibility, with 2.4GW contracted.

Dr Avi Aithal, Head of Open Networks at the ENA, said these statistics show just how far flexibility has come.

“We believe these figures make Great Britain one of the biggest flexibility markets in the world. But today’s success is history tomorrow, so we need to keep pushing on and maximising flexibility across the networks.”

The figures indicate that of the network operators, UK Power Networks was the most active in terms of flexibility connections in the year.

Alongside the release of the figures, the ENA reports launching a new framework and benchmarking to give market participants greater visibility on the implementation of the ‘Open networks’ programme to deliver a standardised flexibility market and to provide greater transparency and highlight progress.

Current key focuses of the programme, now in its sixth year, are on making it easier for service providers to participate by standardising products and processes, improving the operational coordination between networks and companies and improving the transparency of processes, reporting and decision-making.

The Piclo Flex platform has emerged as the flexibility service procurement platform of choice in Britain, now being used by four of the six leading network operators – UK Power Networks, Electricity North West, SP Energy Networks and Northern Powergrid – as well as the TSO the Electricity System Operator (ESO).

Xcel Energy proposes 100 mile transmission upgrade Sun, 20 Aug 2023 13:08:00 +0000 Minnesota-based electric utility and natural gas delivery company Xcel Energy is proposing to upgrade nearly 100 miles of transmission line in Minnesota and eastern South Dakota.

The company says this would allow it to deliver more low-cost renewable energy to electric customers throughout the Upper Midwest.

The company filed a Certificate of Need application with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to install a second circuit on two segments of the existing Brookings County-Hampton transmission line. The new second circuit will run between Brookings, South Dakota and Marshall, Minnesota. Xcel Energy is leading the permitting and construction efforts.

The transmission project will provide additional capacity to relieve congestion on the grid, allowing more low-cost wind power from southwest Minnesota and eastern South Dakota to reach customers throughout the region. Wind energy does not have any fuel costs and contributes to a diversified energy mix, which helps protect against rising fuel prices. Xcel says the project supports its vision of delivering 100% carbon-free electricity in Minnesota by 2040 to meet the state’s new clean energy standards.

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Most of the proposed project will not require changes to the existing transmission line route, which began operation in 2015 as part of the CapX2020 project, a joint project with several other utilities. At that time, the Public Utilities Commission and CapX2020 companies agreed there would likely be a need for new transmission in the future. As a result, the project team constructed the middle portion of the line between Lyon and Scott counties with two circuits and built the western and eastern segments as “double circuit capable.” This allowed the companies to meet customers’ energy needs at the time while anticipating growing energy demand in the future.

The new second circuit would be placed on existing transmission structures and run approximately 60 miles from the Brookings County substation near White, South Dakota to the Lyon County substation near Marshall, Minnesota. A second 39-mile segment would run between the Helena substation in Scott County, Minnesota, and the Hampton substation in Dakota County, Minnesota.

The Public Utilities Commission will review Xcel Energy’s proposal, a process that generally takes up to one year and includes opportunities for input from customers, landowners, and other key stakeholders. If the state approves the project, the company expects to start installing the new circuit in 2024 and finish the project in 2025.

The project is expected to include investment by Central Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, Great River Energy, Missouri River Energy Services, and Otter Tail Power Company.

Originally published by Sean Wolfe for Power Grid.

US demand for electrification metals set to soar one year into IRA Sat, 19 Aug 2023 11:47:00 +0000 According to a new study from S&P Global, one year after the introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), US energy transition demand for critical minerals needed for clean tech such as EVs, charging infrastructure, solar PV, wind and batteries, is expected to significantly increase.

The forecast demand is a new challenge surfacing for the US, which now needs to face exponentially increasing demand for critical minerals.

This is according to the New York-based financial information and analytics company’s study, Inflation Reduction Act: Impact on North America metals and minerals report, which finds that the historic policy is accelerating demand for critical minerals and copper that are vital to energy transition technologies.

They add that ensuring enough qualifying supply to meet that demand faces ‘considerable challenges’.

Accelerated demand

Namely, US energy transition demand from clean tech such as EVs, charging infrastructure, solar PV, wind and batteries, will continue to accelerate and be materially higher for lithium (+15%), cobalt (+14%) and nickel (+13%) by 2035 than was projected before the IRA was enacted in August 2022.

According to the study, demand for copper will be 12% higher by 2035 than pre-IRA projections. Copper is not currently listed as a critical mineral in the United States and does not qualify for IRA tax credits. However, its role as the “metal of electrification” makes it vital to the energy transition and demand for it will rise as it is used alongside critical minerals in energy transition applications.

Adding the post-IRA demand increases on top of demand growth that was already expected prior to the IRA becoming law means that total combined energy transition-related demand for lithium, nickel and cobalt will be 23 times higher in 2035 than it was in 2021. Total demand for copper will be twice as high, the study finds.

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While post-IRA demand is expected to be materially higher, securing enough supply under the law’s sourcing requirements faces considerable challenges, the study says. To qualify for IRA tax credits, processing and/or extraction of critical minerals used must be in the US and/ or in a country with which the US has a free trade agreement (FTA); and that sourcing cannot involve a “foreign entity of concern.”

Commenting on the study was Daniel Yergin, S&P Global’s vice chairman: “This new comprehensive analysis shows that the Inflation Reduction Act is indeed transformative on the demand side.

“However, challenges remain in securing supply of critical minerals needed to meet growing demand and achieve its goal of accelerating the energy transition.”

Material breakdown

Of the four materials analysed in the study, only lithium is likely to be sufficiently supplied to the United States under the IRA’s domestic content requirements, given already-planned capacity additions in the United States and other FTA countries such as Chile, Canada and Australia, the study finds.

Cobalt and nickel were both found to be unlikely to be sourced at levels high enough to meet demand.

While there is enough cobalt produced in FTA countries to meet the IRA domestic sourcing requirement, the United States does not currently source most of its cobalt from those countries. Doing so would require a challenging reorientation of trading patterns across several countries given intense international competition for resources, the study says.

Nickel was found to be the most challenged in terms of supply. There does not appear to be enough nickel supply in FTA countries to meet demand under the IRA requirements—even if all primary nickel production in FTA countries was exported to the US.

While copper is not subject to sourcing requirements under the IRA, ensuring access to enough supply to meet US demand post-IRA is also at risk, the study says. The United States will become more reliant on imports as growing demand for energy transition-related end markets outpace domestic supply.

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For example, the United States relies on one country, Chile, for 60% of refined copper imports. However, for Chile the United States accounts for only 20% of its refined copper exports. The United States could struggle to secure additional supplies from Chile if other markets that represent a larger share of Chilean exports also compete for that supply.

The increasing reliance of the United States on imports as energy transition demand grows places new emphasis and urgency on challenges such as long lead times and permitting complexities that prolong development of domestic resources, the study says. S&P Global data on 127 mines across the world that began production between 2002 and 2023 shows that a major new resource discovery today would not become a productive mine until 2040 or later.

Copper represents a particular opportunity in the United States, which country possesses more than 70 million tons of an untapped copper endowment, equivalent to more than 20 years of US copper demand, even at the level of peak energy transition-related demand in 2035, the study says.

“Timely and transparent permitting is a fundamental operational challenge to supplying metals for the energy transition, particularly in developed markets such as the United States that have high levels of transparency and both political and civil society scrutiny of policy,” said Mohsen Bonakdarpour, executive director at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

“Expediting permitting reform while meeting environmental and community concerns has become a central topic in boosting mineral supply for the energy transition.”

Germany’s sonnen announces 250MWh VPP as ‘Europe’s largest’ Fri, 18 Aug 2023 09:00:00 +0000 Germany-headquartered and Shell-owned sonnen has announced that its virtual power plant (VPP) has reached capacity of 250MWh, claimed to be the largest in Europe to date.

The VPP consists of tens of thousands of sonnenBatteries throughout Germany, states sonnen, which are intelligently controlled and can be used as large-scale storage.

The company hopes to reach the 1GWh mark in the coming years, providing a “decentralised buffer storage” that can be used to balance supply and demand on the electric grid, stated the company in a press release.

sonnen is calling the milestone a new standard “in the digital networking of private households and renewable energies”.

Previously the title of ‘Europe’s largest VPP’ was claimed by Elisa earlier this year in February, when the telecommunications company was awarded a grant by the Finnish government for development of a 150MWh VPP.

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The sonnenVPP is currently providing capacity, for example, to compensate for frequency fluctuations (primary control power) in the transmission grid or to participate in electricity trading on the exchange.

According to the company, the system can shift the time at which solar power is fed in so that it is compatible with the grid and, for example, the midday peak is stored by PV systems instead of adding to congestion.

Customers within the VPP also have access to services via intelligent electricity contracts such as sonnenFlat and receive a share of the proceeds.

“The energy transition must not get stuck in the power grids. With our virtual power plant, we have an instrument for intelligently integrating PV systems, e-cars or heat pumps into our power grids. Our power plant is already in people’s homes and doesn’t need any additional space,” stated Oliver Koch, CEO of sonnen.

After proof of concept within the transmission system, sonnen hopes to use the VPP to offer grid stabilisation services in the distribution grid, where bottlenecks from new PV systems, e-cars and heat pumps are already a concern.

Added Koch: “Currently, many processes in the power grids are not yet digitised or regulated accordingly, so that we are far from exploiting the potential of our technology. However, we are doing valuable pioneering work here, e.g. with our own smart meter rollout.”

Sonnen began a smart meter rollout for its customers in 2016 and in May this year announced an acceleration of rollout in Germany alongside Solandeo, a German energy equipment and solutions provider.

The acceleration is an extension of their collaboration and will see the installation of a further 10,000 intelligent metering systems (iMSys) to sonnenCommunity, an independent energy community.

Fully acquired by Shell in 2019, sonnen also operates virtual power plants in the USA, Australia and Italy. Earlier this year saw company join the VP3 alliance in the US, which hopes to develop and scale up VPP technology.

West Bengal gets 200,000 smart meters Fri, 18 Aug 2023 07:33:00 +0000 The West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company (WBSEDCL) is to instal 200,000 smart meters as part of its distribution grid modernisation.

The contract for the advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) initiative with a value of Rs416.84 crore ($50.2 million) has been awarded to HPL Electric & Power.

The goal of the project, which is supported by funding from the World Bank, is to reduce losses and improve the revenue collection for the utility.

The proposal is that the smart meters will be deployed to high-value consumers in selected urban geographies, including Asansol and Kharagpur among others, by the end of 2026.

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The meters also are expected to improve peak load management and help in better integration of distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar in the grid.

They also should support demand side management by providing consumers with access to their consumption data and hence encourage them to reduce their electricity consumption.

The project marks HPL Electric & Power’s further inroads and broader role in India’s meter market – of which the company claims a 20% market share – with its first as the ‘advanced metering infrastructure service provider’ (AMISP) with responsibility for delivering other smart metering infrastructure and services, alongside its traditional role as supplier to the AMISPs.

“This achievement not only highlights our readiness for change, but also emphasises our preparedness to seize the opportunities in India’s smart metering evolution,” said the company’s joint MD and Chief Financial Officer, Gautam Seth, in an investor call.

As a World Bank-supported project, it is supplementary to but broadly following the guidelines of the national rollout under the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS).

Smart grid development

The smart meter rollout forms part of the smart grid component of the distribution grid modernisation.

Other elements include technology and capacity upgrades of the ICT systems and the deployment of distribution automation technologies and integration of communicable control devices with SCADA.

More broadly other aspects include the strengthening and augmentation of the distribution network in select districts and towns, with retrofits, new distribution and undergrounding of lines for storm protection, and the customary technical assistance for institutional development and capacity building.

The whole distribution grid modernisation is due for completion at the end of November 2026.

AI for net zero gets £4m boost in UK Fri, 18 Aug 2023 06:34:19 +0000 The government has awarded over £1.25 million ($1.6 million) to six energy sector projects for new artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to accelerate decarbonisation.

The funding, part of a total of almost £4 million ($5.1 million) that has been promised for AI innovation for industrial decarbonisation, is intended to support the development of approaches for decarbonisation in order to support the transition to net zero.

The lion’s share of the funding, £500,000 ($636,703) has been awarded to the Digital Catapult to establish a virtual ‘centre of excellence’ to advance and promote the adoption of AI decarbonisation applications.

The ‘Artificial Intelligence for Decarbonisation’s Virtual Centre of Excellence’ (ADViCE) initiative, which will be led in partnership with the Energy Systems Catapult and Alan Turing Institute, is planned to understand and address barriers that prevent companies from using AI decarbonisation applications and to identify innovation opportunities to develop new high growth applications.

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Multiple parallel work streams are planned to bring together stakeholders such as adopters, AI developers, investors, local government, institutions, regulatory authorities and academics.

Driving power sector decarbonisation

The balance of the funding is focused on supporting the development of innovative approaches to help drive decarbonisation in the power sector.

Building controls specialist Future Decisions, based at Reading University, receives £104,651 ($113,263) for its ‘OptimalPrime’ initiative to enhance AI for building management systems in order to optimise the building control to deliver sustainability savings, potentially up to 65% per building.

Open Climate Fix, a non-profit lab, receives £121,500 ($154,670) to create an open source model for hyper-local solar PV generation forecasting, with extensions to EV load modelling, applying AI with real-time electricity grid data, satellite imagery, solar PV site data and weather data.

The University of Nottingham receives £133,932 ($170,496) for another solar generation forecasting initiative, in this case to create AI models combining sky images and numerical weather data in order to improve the prediction accuracy of meteorological parameters.

H2GO Power, which is developing hydrogen storage solutions, receives £130,621 ($166 281) to develop a module for its AI hydrogen management platform, HyAI, for cases with highly seasonal power demand and extreme events to optimise hydrogen delivery for multiple off-takers

Quantum solutions developer Secqai receives £100,000 ($127 249) to create a neuromorphic computing unit emulating the neural structure of the human brain as a potential step towards the more energy efficient use of AI in computing.

Commenting, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance Lord Callanan said that with the UK’s expertise with advanced AI the boundaries must now be pushed in how the technology can enhance the rapidly growing clean energy sector.

“It’s projects like [these] that will take us to the next step on our ambitious journey to becoming net zero, while boosting our energy security and creating a new wave of skilled jobs for the future.”

AI funding for smart grid

Alongside the awards, which also included two for AI initiatives to advance decarbonisation in industry and one in agriculture, a further £2.25 million ($2.86 million) was allocated to support further AI innovation in the areas of electrification and the smart grid, transportation and land use for renewables generation.

Up to £350,000 ($445 355) may be awarded for the individual projects, which must be completed by March 2025.

Applications are due by 10 October with the awards expected to be in announced in December and project kick-off from February 2024.

Power sector measures key for smart charging in emerging economies states IEA Thu, 17 Aug 2023 15:02:55 +0000 Although electric vehicles (EVs) are proliferating globally, power sector measures that can optimally enable smart charging are not yet fully present in emerging markets and developing economies, states the International Energy Agency (IEA).

This is according to the IEA’s Facilitating Decarbonisation in Emerging Economies Through Smart Charging report, which looks at how decarbonisation can be facilitated through smart charging.

According to the report, although there are several requirements for smart charging to take place, the power sector has a unique role that can’t be overlooked, namely in establishing the foundations of how EVs can be used as a resource.

The potential of smart charging on the power system lies largely in its potency as a flexible asset, states the report, enabling widespread renewable penetration and consumption management.

EV proliferation

According to the report, while most of the uptake of EVs is found in the US, Europe and China, EVs are also starting to penetrate markets in emerging economies.

Electric two- and three-wheelers are more common in Asia, with sales of electric three-wheelers constituting 46% of total three-wheeler sales in the fiscal year of 2022. Meanwhile, electric buses are gaining ground in Latin America, where most have reached cost parity with diesel buses.

These trends are likely to continue as these economies set more adoption targets for the end of the decade.

However, to accommodate the increasing uptake, the necessary charging infrastructure will be needed to coordinate the increasing electric load coming onto the grid.

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While the energy required by EVs is low compared with typical daily electricity consumption, the IEA states how ensuring enough grid capacity will be the more important parameter given the high-power requirements that the charging process can take.

Charging of two- and three-wheelers may not lead to significant increases in peak load until a high level of penetration, whereas charging of buses will raise peak load and often require dedicated transformers.

The role of smart charging

This, states the IEA, is where smart charging needs to be more widely adopted, as it provides an avenue of integrating the EV into the power system where the charging process can be adjusted to be in line with power system objectives.

Said objectives could be voltage regulation and reduction of local peak in the distribution grid, or frequency regulation and energy arbitrage in the bulk energy system.

Smart charging of EV fleets can provide a good source of power system flexibility, increasing the uptake of renewables while maintaining power system stability.

However, for smart charging to be coordinated optimally and support the system, it needs to be able to adjust in response to system signals.

States the report: “The faster the EVs can react, the more services it can provide. Such high levels of coordination can happen only through digitalisation.

“With the help of telecommunications and connectivity, smart charging service providers can exist to help serve as intermediaries to balance the needs of the EV users, charge point operators and power systems.”

Power system measures missing

According to the report, the main signals which can serve as rewards or sources of value for EV users and smart charging service providers are:

• Differentiated tariffs: Tariffs which vary rates based on time of day to incentivise the behaviour of EV users about when to charge their cars

• Procurement of local flexibility: Distribution grid operators enter into contracts with aggregators or charging service providers to manipulate the charging process to achieve local needs.

• Wholesale energy market access: Whereby vehicles can participate in changing the supply-demand curve to lower peak generation and increase renewables consumption.

• Ancillary services market access: Allowing aggregated EVs to respond to system services such as frequency response.

In advanced economies such as California, South Korea, the Netherlands and the UK, each of these power system measures is widespread or in progress, with the exception of procurement of local flexibility in South Korea.

However, for the studied emerging economies, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Maharashtra, Morocco, South Africa, Tamil Nadu, Thailand, Tunisia, Uttar Pradesh and Vietnam, the opposite is true.

Differentiated tariffs were found to be the most common measure, although not absent in Colombia and Morocco.

The only other measure found was that of ancillary services in South Africa and in progress in Chile.

Moving forward

According to the IEA’s findings, depending on the degree of EV integration desired by the economy in question, different technological and regulatory frameworks will need to be deployed for the sector to facilitate a fair and efficient smart charging process.

Specifically, they state, the following recommendations are made to establish a smart charging ecosystem:

  • Establish a framework for demand response in the power system, which could be implicit via tariff variation or explicit through direct bidding of demand in wholesale and balancing markets.
  • Ensure standardisation and interoperability; said standards could be set by tying them to charging infrastructure incentives, as a de facto standard based on public tenders, or legislated directly as a regulation
  • Establish minimum requirements for smart communication and control, thereby ensure future EV uptake will instill the ability to participate in smart charging
  • Ensure matching with clean electricity, whereby signals to charge could come either from the electricity market through wholesale prices, or from end-consumer electricity prices that reflect the best time to consume clean electricity
  • Reform the role of distribution operators from passive owners and providers of network capacity into active managers of an interconnected system that can help activate EVs’ full potential
Hawaiian Electric accused of mismanagement in Maui wildfire wake Thu, 17 Aug 2023 11:31:41 +0000 Hawaiian Electric has come under attack after being accused of potential mismanagement leading to the wildfires that have ravaged the US island state.

According to S&P Global, the utility’s shares plunged as much as 42% at the start of the week under the threat of a class-action lawsuit in the wake of the wildfires on Maui, which claimed the lives of over 100 people to date and widespread destruction across the island.

According to S&P, attorneys from three firms in California and Hawaii filed a complaint with the Oahu District Court alleging that Hawaiian Electric equipment “foreseeably ignited the fastmoving, deadly, and destructive Lahaina Fire.”

S&P notes that the complaint suggests that the utility should have de-energised power lines after the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning and “knew that their electrical infrastructure was inadequate, ageing, and/or vulnerable to foreseeable and known weather conditions.”

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Reportedly, states the Washington Post, power lines are the likely cause of the fire. Namely, an electrical malfunction was directly correlated with data of a Hawaiian Electric power system problem, adding evidence that the state’s main utility equipment sparked multiple fires.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the utility, which is the parent company of Maui Electric Company and serves 95% of Hawaii’s 1.4 million residents, is speaking with restructuring advisory firms to address financial and legal challenges over its potential liabilities.

S&P Global Ratings has downgraded the utility to BB-, otherwise known as junk status, warning investors that the utility is a risky bet, due to the high risk of default.

After the wildfires broke out last week, the Hawaiian utility warned of extended outages, which affected over 12,400 customers.

As of Wednesday, restoration has still been underway on transmission lines, with approximately 2,000 customers remaining without electricity in West Maui.

According to Hawaiian Electric, crews are currently working to install a second mobile substation to support restoration efforts and more than 100 utility poles will be needed. A shipment is expected to arrive from Oahu covering the utility pole requirements as well as supplying fencing and other equipment.

According to the National Interagency Fire Centre, 68,988 wildfires burned more than 7.5 million acres of US land last year.

The lawsuit against Hawaiian Electric is the latest case of a utility being associated with a wildfire. In the past years, lawsuits have been filed against PacifiCorp and PG&E.

Nature-based energy solutions to the fore Thu, 17 Aug 2023 08:25:00 +0000 Iberdrola has launched Carbon2Nature with the mission to develop high-impact environmental energy solutions that support both decarbonisation and sustainability.

With the major growth of new energy systems expected in the years ahead in the form of renewable generation, particularly solar and wind, along with the supporting transmission and distribution infrastructure, environmental and sustainability considerations are becoming increasingly important for today’s utilities.

With this in mind, Iberdrola has launched the new Carbon2Nature (C2N) company to harness the potential of carbon credit markets to drive the development of projects that will generate the credits and that then would be made available to customers to support their decarbonisation.

Iberdrola’s stated aim is to capture and store more than 61Mt of CO2 in natural sinks such as forests, coastal ecosystems and agricultural soils through the promotion of conservation and restoration projects in these.

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The focus is on regions where Iberdrola is present and where such solutions have significant potential, with over three-quarters of the projects likely in Latin American countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile and the remainder in countries in the northern hemisphere, including Spain, the United Kingdom and Portugal.

C2N is already working on the development of projects in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Spain, the company reports.

“To face the global challenge of climate change, the firm was created with the ambition to make a long-term impact at an international level,” says Miguel Ángel García Tamargo, director of Carbon2Nature, who previously held various roles with Iberdrola clean energy subsidiary Avangrid.

“In order to achieve this, it is committed to diversification in geographies and projects and promotes collaborative strategies for their development with local communities and other actors, guaranteeing the highest levels of quality.”

RGI, IUCN energy solutions partnership

Another new initiative in this area is a partnership between the Renewables Grid Initiative – an EU-funded TSO, NGO collaboration – and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with a five-year agreement on the development of sustainable renewable energy and electricity grids.

A key project currently being developed is the ‘Global Initiative for Nature, Renewables & Grids’, with the intent to support key stakeholders to incorporate nature-positive approaches in renewable energy generation and transmission.

If successful, the project should lead to a monitoring and reporting system, showcasing solutions and progress globally.

Antonella Battaglini, CEO of the Renewable Grid Initiative, comments: “It is possible to address climate, energy and biodiversity security in parallel when well planned, energy infrastructure can contribute to create nature protection and restoration opportunities.”

Flexible power responder and storage developer team up on LDES in UK Thu, 17 Aug 2023 07:22:00 +0000 Mercia Power Response, which provides flexible power response services to the UK grid, has signed an agreement with storage tech developer RheEnergise to explore the potential deployment of a new form of long-duration hydro-energy storage.

Known as High-Density Hydro, Mercia Power Response and RheEnergise will work together to identify suitable sites for additional HD Hydro storage projects.

The initial focus will be the feasibility of getting 100MW of HD Hydro in commercial operation by 2030 by using Mercia’s existing grid connections.

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Stephen Crosher, RheEnergise’s chief executive commented on the announcement: “Mercia PR’s experience in flexible power response and its deep knowledge of the UK energy system will be hugely beneficial to the RheEnergise team.

“Our HD Hydro technology can provide medium and long duration energy storage, which is becoming increasingly important as the UK moves towards net zero and with a UK energy system that is increasingly reliant on intermittent renewables.”

The existing 40 sites have a combined capacity of 263MW and several sites are under development and construction over the next 5-10 years, according to RheEnergise.

The HD Hydro system uses an environmentally benign fluid, 2.5 times denser than water, which can provide 2.5 times the power when compared to a conventional low-density hydro-power system.

The developer states how this enables HD Hydro to be deployed beneath the surface of hills rather than mountains, opening up opportunities in the UK and globally.

Said Graham White, CEO at Mercia PR: “It is very exciting to explore how we can engage with RheEnergise’s HD Hydro technology, applying our expertise in finding the right locations, developing sites, getting grid connections and operating within the Capacity Market.

“We see enormous potential for HD Hydro deployment as a future low-carbon alternative to our existing gas-powered assets.”

Added Sophie Orme, commercial director of RheEnergise: “Given the growing pressure to speed up the decarbonisation of the UK’s energy system, our HD Hydro system can be consented in months rather than years, so we are able to make a meaningful and positive impact on the energy transition over the next decade.

“With our partnership with Mercia PR, we will have a better understanding of the feasibility of deploying 100MW of long duration storage capacity by 2030.”

Self-consumption connections accelerate in Spain Thu, 17 Aug 2023 05:53:24 +0000 Endesa has reported its subsidiary e-distribución activating more self-consumption installations in the first half of 2023 than in all of 2022.

At the end of June, more than 200,000 individual and collective self-consumption installations were operating on its network, Endesa has reported.

This follows the connection of 85,000 self-consumption units in that six-month period, compared with 81,800 in all of 2022 and almost 3.5 times more than in 2021.

In particular there was a notable tripling in the number of collective installations, increasing from 161 at the start of 2023 to 488 by the end of June.

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Such installations have been the last to join the self-consumption ‘boom’ in Spain, Endesa has indicated, noting they are expected to continue to increase significantly in the future, with almost three-quarters of family homes of this type wanting to participate.

For example, the almost 500 collective installations are comprised of more than 2,400 customers.

The more than 200,000 self-consumption installations in Endesa’s network – which takes in Andalusia, Extremadura, Catalonia, Aragon, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands – have a combined installed capacity of 3GW.

The majority, almost 99%, are with surpluses that are fed into the network.

By area, most are in Andalusia and Catalonia, which concentrate 84% of the active self-consumption with close to 90,400 and 78,000 units respectively.

In the Canary Islands, the number is close to 10,000, having doubled over the first half of 2023, while in Aragón the number is close to 7,400 following an 84% increase and in the Balearic Islands it is close to 11,670 after an 81% increase.

Endesa anticipates that given the current rate, the number of activated self-consumption connections will reach 270,000 by the end of 2023.

To expedite the procedure, which is otherwise complex, particularly for collective installations, Endesa reports having proposed changes to the regulator with the aim to complete contracts within a time of 10 days as well as initiating improvements in its communications procedures.

Transgrid signs AU$100mn for 17,500km of high voltage conductors Wed, 16 Aug 2023 12:29:44 +0000 In preparing to deliver priority grid projects, Australia’s largest TSO Transgrid has finalised an AU$100 million ($64.7 million) contract with ZTT Australia to supply 17,500km of high voltage conductors – enough to stretch from Sydney to Dublin, claims the operator.

The high voltage conductors contract is part of the Powering Tomorrow Together programme run by Transgrid, bundling procurement for major projects HumeLink, VNI West and EnergyConnect.

The programme will enable Transgrid to purchase materials, such as substation equipment, earlier and at a lower cost, enabling limited resources to be used across multiple projects.

The orders are also supported by AU$385 million ($249 million) Australian Government underwriting as part of the Rewiring the Nation program.

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Commenting on the announcement in a release was Transgrid CEO Brett Redman: “We continue to build our global supply chain to secure the specialised kit needed to build the future clean energy grid and ensure competitive and efficient delivery of the Federal Government’s energy plans.

“We are also finalising a separate contract with another Australian company to supply other locally-produced conductor elements.”

Dean Farrar, ZTT Australia’s general manager, said the conductors will be manufactured in equipment manufacturer ZTT Group’s Hekou manufacturing campus and will be delivered to Australia in 2024 and 2025.

“We are honoured to be partnering with Transgrid for their current and future major projects. This contract builds on our ongoing commitment to support the Australian energy and telecommunications markets, now and into the future,” stated Farrar.

This year Transgrid also secured 15 shunt reactors and 25 single-phase transformers worth approximately AU$150 million ($97 million), with arrival planned for late 2024.

According to Transgrid, more than 2,500km of new transmission lines are needed to ensure access to renewable generators and interconnection between regions required to drive down wholesale energy costs.

Over the next decade, Transgrid plans to invest AU$14 billion ($9.4 billion) to build new transmission infrastructure including the AU$7 billion ($4.7 billion), 1,600km Southern Superhighway made up of three major critical transmission projects – EnergyConnect, HumeLink and VNI West.

Transgrid’s Powering Tomorrow Together Program is bundling procurement for these three projects to secure needed equipment and materials.

New York announces $11m in funding for solving grid challenges Wed, 16 Aug 2023 11:30:47 +0000 New York’s Governor Hochul announced the availability of $11 million in funding through the fourth round of the Future Grid Challenge for projects that identify solutions to the technical challenges of integrating a changing energy resource mix into the electric grid.

The announcement also included more than $5 million in project awards under the third round of the challenge.

Modernising the electric grid enhances reliability and resiliency in response to a changing climate, optimises the transmission of power and is intended to support New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal to achieve 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030.

“With the increasing number of extreme weather events in New York and across the country, we are working hard to modernise our electric grid and support the development of technologies that will improve reliability,” Governor Hochul said. “By making our grid smarter, more flexible and cleaner with the use of renewable energy, we can ensure the reliability of our energy system, reduce emissions and create a more sustainable future for New Yorkers.”

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Administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), through round four, proposals are sought from single or team providers including researchers, product vendors, asset managers and consultants to develop or demonstrate advanced technologies that will support a reliable modern energy transmission and distribution system. Projects must also advance reduced energy costs and greater quantities of renewables integration, while helping the State meet its climate goals.

Up to $3 million per project is available to address high-priority grid technologies including:

  • Improved transmission utilisation
  • Operational situational awareness
  • Distribution Energy Management Systems (DERMS)
  • Inverter-based resource integration
  • Power electronics
  • Grid modeling
  • Data analytics
  • Artificial intelligence/machine learning
  • Protection systems

Projects awarded under Round Three include:

  • Clarkson University – $399,000: To evaluate the stability and reliability risks associated with a high voltage direct current meshed network for offshore wind.
  • Electric Power Research Institute:
    • $397,000: To investigate the unique situations of the onshore power system as a result of increased offshore wind penetration.
    • $2.3 million: To develop a control management software so solar, battery storage and other distributed energy resources (DERs) can provide further benefits to the grid.
    • $400,000: To study how energy storage deployment can address grid stability issues for transmission and sub-transmission networks.
  • New York University – $187,000: To study a methodology for detecting large power transformer defects without disrupting service for maintenance.
  • Quanta Technology – $400,000: To study how intelligent power electronic devices located at large renewable generation plants can be used to improve visibility and grid operator situational awareness.
  • Switched Source – $1 million: To demonstrate a power electronics device’s ability to increase renewable hosting capacity and improve the reliability and efficiency of the electric grid.

The Future Grid Challenge offers funding to grid technology companies and research institutions that address challenges ranging from the need for greater real-time system data to incorporating smart technologies and energy storage into power grid planning and operations. The goal of the programme is to foster technologies to enhance resiliency, enable and advance energy infrastructure for the performance needed to achieve the Climate Act goals and ensure reliability of the transmission and distribution system, reducing cost and allowing for faster integration of renewables.

The announcement builds on NYSERDA’s Grid Modernization Program, which will provide a total of $133 million through 2026 to further research, develop, and provide funding for solutions that support the advancement of a smart, modernised electric grid and enable the utility investments necessary for full deployment at scale of advanced technologies for the power grid.

Since 2016, NYSERDA’s Smart Grid program has awarded approximately $65 million under 111 contracts to grid technology companies and research organizations for projects including low-cost, high-accuracy grid sensors, modeling and simulation tools and advanced engineering solutions for more effective optimisation, reliability and resiliency and integration of renewable energy resources.

Originally posted by Sean Wolfe on Power Grid.

Australian smart buildings trial to test flexible demand response tech Wed, 16 Aug 2023 07:24:00 +0000 An AU$11 million ($7.1 million) project led by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, will drive the development of flexible demand for energy technologies, with the aim of easing pressure on the energy grid.

The Digital Infrastructure Energy Flexibility (DIEF) pilot project will bring together a consortium of project sponsors responsible for funding, research outcomes, coordinating artificial intelligence competitions and onboarding buildings onto a digital platform in the hopes of developing flexible demand tech.

Flexible demand, states CSIRO, is an alternative to the traditionally rigid energy network infrastructure, offering a way to lighten the load on the grid during busy periods. However, the flexible demand approach is still nascent and requires new technologies, market processes and ways of engaging with energy users.

The DIEF pilot will address these issues, whereby up to 200 buildings, selected by the consortium will be connected to CSIRO’s Data Clearing House Platform (DCH), which will act as the digital infrastructure for the project.

DCH is a software platform for owners and operators of existing or new commercial, industrial, government and mixed-use developments to connect with service providers to solve common data-related problems.

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flexible demand trials
Image courtesy CSIRO

CSIRO’s energy director, Dr Dietmar Tourbier, said the DIEF project would help improve the viability and uptake in flexible demand, delivering benefits to consumers and industry alike:

“Flexible demand is critical because it ensures grid stability, reduces costs, supports increasing renewable energy integration and enables a more sustainable and efficient energy system.”

The project will allow property owners within the pilot to share data and build innovative software applications for sophisticated management of building carbon emissions.

Property owners will be able to identify opportunities for energy flexibility and productivity improvements resulting in reduced operating costs and energy use.

Dr Stephen White. Image courtesy CSIRO.

The data collected during the trial will be used to inform Government on the creation of a flexible demand policy and asset register.

Commented CSIRO chief research consultant for energy, Dr Stephen White: “This technology will not only allow people to get data out of their buildings and make it accessible to their service providers, but they will also be able to receive data from external providers such as the electricity market and the Bureau of Meteorology.”

Of the 200 buildings to be connected, the DCH expects to gain access to devices that consume over five megawatts of power from the grid, up to 0.08% of total demand in NSW. The power usage of these devices can be intelligently controlled to match up with periods of high renewable generation.

The DCH Platform forms part of CSIRO’s developing Smart Energy Mission which is focused on building Australia’s next generation of integrated and equitable energy systems.

Members of the NSW consortium who are sponsoring the project include CSIRO, the NSW Government, Amber Electric, DNA Energy, EVSE Australia, Nube iO, Property and Development NSW, RACE for 2030 CRC, UNSW, UOW, and Wattwatchers.

The project was funded with an AU$3.75 million ($2.43 million) grant from the NSW Government, under the Net Zero Plan Stage 1: 2020-2030. The remaining funding (cash and in-kind) was provided by consortium members and in-kind funding from CSIRO.

Ireland over smart meters half way mark Wed, 16 Aug 2023 06:32:32 +0000 Ireland’s ESB Networks has reported now having installed more than 1.3 million smart meters, corresponding to a penetration of about 54%.

ESB Networks started its deployment of smart meters in the autumn of 2019 and is working through the country on a phased area-by-area basis.

Currently, installations are taking place in County Longford in the central north of Ireland.

Ireland’s Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) made the decision to implement smart metering for all residential and small business customers in July 2012, following customer behaviour and technology trials and a positive cost-benefit analysis.

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Under the National Smart Metering Programme, which is being delivered by ESB Networks in partnership with the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and electricity suppliers, the rollout must be completed for the approximately 2.4 million customers by the end of 2024.

With the smart meters, suppliers are required to offer all users a time-of-use tariff and to make available new services.

ESB Networks also has launched a portal for smart meter users to view their consumption.

At the time of the one million smart meter milestone in October 2022, ESB Networks reported to be installing the new meters at a rate of about 10,000 per week and on track to meet the 2024 timeline.

To date, the programme has focussed on the replacement of standard 24-hour meters to smart meters.

However, the plan is to start from September 2023 also replacing other meter types, including day-night meters, standard 3 phase 24-hour meters with large users including industrial and commercial customers and night storage heating meters.

ESB Networks is installing meters from Kamstrup and Sagemcom.