Over 200 professionals from across Europe were in attendance at the Repower Europe Conference in Brussels earlier this month. Repowering Europe was one of the largest joint European events this year among the smart grids and solar photovoltaic sectors. The objective of the two-day event was to review past successes of the smart grids in Europe and discuss future challenges.
The Repower Europe Conference was organised by Marie Donnelly, Director for Renewables, Research and Innovation and Energy Efficiency at the European Commission. The SmartGrids European Technology Platform and the Photovoltaic European Technology and Innovation Platform co-organised the event.
During the conference the debate centred on the barriers to be overcome and in particular, the required reform in the market design, to allow smart grids to develop and integrate further variable renewables, such as photovoltaic energy.
The challenge for smart grids lies in the efficient integration of variable renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power in the European electricity system. Photovoltaic generation has reached 100 megawatt (MW) installed capacity in Europe, it represents about 4% of the whole electricity demand in Europe and it is expected to reach 8% by 2020 and 15% by 2030 according to Solar Power Europe projections.
One of the European Union’s objectives is to turn into a low carbon energy economy and maintain its leadership in renewable energies but this will require a shift in the way the electricity networks are planned and operated.
The main challenges in the area of smartgrids, highlighted during the conference are:
– The increasing penetration of distributed renewable energy sources
– The increasing electrification of several sectors and the appearance of new loads, such as electric vehicles, and local storage
– Smartgrids should become seamlessly digital to enable local balancing, self-generation, wide electrification of mobility, flexibility for any user, full open market access
– Future grids require to be versatile to accommodate the highly local volatility of the active components (sources and loads) of the integrated grid
– Networks investments should be incentivised to consider the increased benefits provided by smart grids in increasing efficiency and lowering costs at medium and long term
– Smart grids should accommodate active end-users through new services.