Theoretical diagram of an interconnected network between Europe, North Africa and the Middle-East
The smart grid is one of the denominations of an intelligent distribution network of electricity which uses data-processing technologies so as to optimize the production and the distribution and to better connect supply and demand between the producers and the consumers of electricity.
A whole of data-processing technologies must make it possible to achieve the objective of a smart grid where the production and flows of electricity are optimized, the risks of blackout and the losses on the minimized networks.
The system of intelligent follow-up of flows of electricity on the whole of and the distribution grid system of electricity constitutes the heart of the smart grid. It makes it possible to know in real-time the state of the network, to anticipate the incidents, to facilitate decision making informed to optimize the network and to make it surer. The quality of electricity can also be controlled in real-time and stabilized (it is about a causing problem of the important damage to electrical equipment). The smart grid locally includes autonomous control systems present on the network which make it possible to make the good decisions of orientation of flows according to the evolution of a whole of parameters (local peak of consumption, cut of line, setting not under tension of a power station of production, marginal costs of production of the power stations).
The smart grids will be also equipped with systems of adequate answer to terrorist attacks against or the distribution grid system of electricity, or power station of electric production. The technological innovation will make it possible to improve the current systems of answers to the incidents, which lead sometimes the managers of network to make errors with the heavy consequences.
If the transport system and of distribution current is adapted to a network of electric production organized in powerplants with the foreseeable production, the multiplication of the intermittent and unforeseeable sources of electrical production (wind, photovoltaic) poses problem. The distribution networks of electricity must be increasingly flexible in order to adapt to the variations of these decentralized sources of production. The integration of the sources of production decentralized and renewable within the electrical communications is thus one of the principal goals of the smart grids.
The coordination of flows of electricity on the lans and interregional also allows a reduction in the losses on the electrical communications due to the phenomena of congestion of the network. The smart grids, by directing flows intelligently, make it possible to reduce these losses.

The role of the CRE

As an independent public authority, the CRE chose to seize problems. Qualified as regards networks, it takes care of the development and the good performance of the public networks of transport and distribution of electricity. Moreover, it seems important to him to inform on the energy changes to come and to explain nature and the forms which these changes take. The CRE decided to organize the reflection and the dialog through several initiatives.
It opened the reflection on the subject while organizing, on January 27th, 2010, in partnership with the University Paris-Dauphine, the first institutional conference devoted to the intelligent electrical communications and their impacts on the world of energy. This conference brought together many actors of the fields of electricity and sociologist but information technologies also, researchers and academics.
Following this conference and always in partnership with the University Paris-Dauphine, it published, on November 8th, 2010, one entitled book the electricity of the future: a world challenge. It calls on the actors of the evolutions which the electrical communications know and puts these changes in prospect.
Lastly, wishing to continue to promote in the duration the reflection and the dialog on the subject, the CRE launched, in December 2010, first collaboratif Internet site dedicated to Smart grids ( Tool of diffusion and promotion of work and experiments carried out in the world on Smart grids, the site wants to be a circle of exchanges and reflection, a crossroads of the ideas, in order to federate the whole of the initiatives of the actors concerned with the subject. Their participation in the site ensures the wealth and the diversity of information and point of view.

General information

The implementation, on the existing physical distribution network, of sensors connected to a data-processing network and a powerful system of analysis able to be based on prospective data of short, average and long run, must allow a better adjustment of the production and consumption of electricity, with the following advantages:
reduction in the peaks of consumption, by smoothing the load diagram, thus allowing to reduce the electrical production by fossil energies
avoidance of the breakdowns due to an overload
less on-line losses
integration with the network facilitated for a clean bouquet of energy sources; sure and complementary, but often irregular and diffuse such as the domestic wind mills, hydroliennes, firm wind mills, domestic solar panels, solar power stations, small hydraulics, tidal sources, etc
transfers facilitated and optimized electric production at long distance.
Although certain technologies are estampillées smart grid, the term refers more to one unit of technologies than to item precise.
The emergence of the intelligent networks is accentuated by the evolution of the legislative logics introduced by the opening of the supply contracts of electricity to competition.
Thus, the preceding contributions come mainly from the manager of distribution network, but of other contributions of the intelligent networks the final customers in bond with their supplier of energy concern directly


According to the Department of the energy of the United States, if technologies of intelligent network made the electrical communication American more effective of 5%, that would be equivalent to an economy in terms of gas emission to greenhouse effect of 53 million cars and the improvement of the network thanks to these technologies should allow a saving in 46 to 117 billion dollars from here at 2023.
According to another study, Europe could on its side thanks to an intelligent super-network (SuperSmart Grid, SSG to make safe its energy food, by developing soft, renewable and decentralized energies, while strongly decreasing its contributions to the greenhouse effect. This network would make it possible even according to the study to rock since 2050 on a network only supplied with clean energies, sure and renewable.
In Taiwan where the group Taiwan Power, principal energetician of the island estimates that the intelligent network is the only means of circumventing the human idleness, this last estimates to be able to make save 10%, only by managing in an automatic way the equipment of day before, and 10 to 20% additional while making in the same way with the intelligent Meters
The expression smart grid is often associated with the concept of intelligent meter (smart meter) able to give an invoicing by time slot making it possible to the consumers to choose the best tariff at the various productive enterprises, but also to exploit the hours of consumption, thus allowing a better use of the electrical communication. Such a system would also make it possible to chart consumption more finely and to better anticipate the needs, on more local scales.
In France for example, Linky, the meter of ERDF will be a true revolution to develop the Smartgrid concept, associated with certain box at the users, it should make it possible to control certain remote equipment to facilitate the management of the electric charge which forwards on the networks (example, piloting of the load of the electric vehicles, piloting of the starting of the furnaces, the washing machines…).
Ploggs, put in communication by software of the middleware type, make it possible apparatuses to communicate between them.
The large companies of the sector of data processing, like Google and Microsoft work on these intelligent meters to make of them interfaces of follow-up (instrument panels) of consumption. The user can then know the detail of his consumption, by part, switch, period, type of equipment and know the stations on which energy saving is possible.
This network, if it develops, will give to the operators indirect and direct information on the private life (schedules and activity of the inhabitants). Nevertheless its capacity announced to improve the energetic efficiency and the economies of individual invoices seem to facilitate its acceptance by the public. This acceptance by the users remains to be shown, this is why in France, the ADEME under the impulse of the Ministry for sustainable development, launched calls to demonstrations of interests during 2009 aiming at showing the energy efficiency brought by the concept smartgrid while supporting integration of distributed renewable energies. The awaited projects will have to be in coherence with the roadmap networks and intelligent electric systems integrating renewable energies, the main objectives must: to support the integration of renewable energies on the distribution networks; to take part in the improvement of energy efficiency, to develop new models of businesses for the sale of energy, and finally to integrate the intelligent meter like technological and economic vector to facilitate management activate request. In addition one of the topics of the great loan 2010 draft of the intelligent networks, and in particular aims at satisfying engagements of Grenelle 2 through the development of the intelligent networks and its impact on the general public (energy improvement, economic assessment long run…). Attributions of the ADEME and the great loan are planned for the end of 2010 beginning 2011, and should concern the large actors of energy: producers, managers of the distribution networks, commercialisateurs, but so industrial, institutions, universities…

Financial aspects

The distribution networks directly concerned with the concept smartgrid were conceived initially to distribute the energy of the upstream towards the downstream (of the power stations towards the consumers). With the decentralized production (photovoltaic, wind…) and with the modification of the utilities (electric vehicle), gives it is changing. The emergence of the smartgrids reveals thus true financial questions to define in which profits these new technologies:
The obliteration of the point is an expression which characterizes the techniques of the managers and suppliers of electricity for effacer the peaks of consumption. The principal idea being to find a means to extinguish certain electricals appliance (concretely electric heating very present in France or air-conditioning very present in California) when the general demand is too keen. This peak demand is generally noted at the time of the rigorous winters towards 19:00 and volume can reach 1,5 times the average day laborer.
The obliteration of the point is the true stake of the smart grids because it will be able to make it possible to reduce the CO2 emissions and other pollutants, but also because it will bring a substantial economy for the suppliers of electricity (less investments of production or purchase to the purse of electricity) and for the consumers (reduced invoice). This performance will not be possible that if the electrical communication is sufficiently intelligent. Indeed, it will be necessary to count on several bricks of the technological lego smart grids. The first brick being the smart metering which makes it possible to have a fine vision of consumption and thus to see arriving peaks.
This approach to answer the request, a little prosaic and vague. It is however a field in full explosion which is the object many technological innovations. This technology does not consist in extinguishing the apparatuses at the time of the points, but adjusting the request with the production dynamically. For example while starting your dishwasher when the wind mills of the field of at side are in action because the wind is raised.
However, there remains an obstacle of size in this step: mode of remuneration of electricity. Indeed, so that the consumer-actor accepts this flexibility in his manner of consuming it will have to be encouraged with measurement quantified. This method of remuneration or reduction of the invoice is still to invent.

To store electricity to help the networks to be intelligent.

One of the technical components which makes it possible to obtain an intelligent network is to integrate storage capacities of electricity into it.
First of all, as we said one of the goals of the smart grids is the facilitated integration of EnR in particular of wind and solar source. The characteristic of these energies is the volatility of their electrical production, dependant on the weather. To integrate a storage of energy with these EnR would make it possible to make plug to inject into the network of electricity in a more regular way.
The second good reason to integrate elements of storage in the smart grids is the éffacement peaks of production, thus limiting the violente generation energy which is often accompanied by emission violente of pollutants (CO2 or others). Stocks of electricity could be injected into the networks when the demand is too keen and to reload itself during the hollow time.
Lastly, to have reserves of electricity makes it possible to avoid inopportune power cuts and the networks could become self-healing. When a breakdown is detected rather quickly by the intelligent network, that inject of stored electricity before the breakdown does not reach the consumers.
Storage in the form of energy mechanical:
Fault of storing electricity directly, one of the ideas is to store a physical element and its potential energy. In light the electrical energy which is not sent in the network during the hollow time can be used to actuate pumps to compress gas or to go up water. In the first case, the gas pressurized is stored in an adapted tank (often underground), it is released to actuate producing turbines when the demand is very keen. In the second case, it is an hydroelectric station which functions in the two directions: to pump water upstream stopping or to make turn the turbines génératices.
Alternate different Una (more difficult technically) for storage in the form of energy mechanical is to benefit from the inertia of a rotor. This technology is more known under the name of FES. The company Beacon Power is specialized in this technology and set up it at the United States to absorb the marginal variations between the production and the electricity demand.
Batteries and Ultra-condensers:
These two elements are studied together because they form a duet which meets two complementary needs and present similar stakes for industrialization. The ultra-condensers can store and discharge from electricity very quickly and during very short times, whereas the batteries have response times much longer.
The ultra-condensers are still not very present in the electrical communication because of their cost. But if it is considered that Ci was tiny room of 95% since 1980 and that it could still be reduced 50%, the interest of the industrialists for this component should go up out of arrow.
As much the batteries plays a part prevailing at the domestic level, as much their integration on an industrial scale is difficult. Again, these promising technologies will have to be able to show their capacities to become robust and accessible industrial products. The maturity of this field will have to thus reach a few years.

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