Smart grids Smart grids

Energy security and climate change are becoming increasingly prominent on political agendas worldwide, such that they rank among the highest of EU priorities. The EU is aiming for a 20% increase in energy efficiency, raising the share of energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20% and reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20 %, by 2020.

European Smart Grids will promote the Intelligent Energy Supply Chain that will optimize, control, secure and sustain the procurement and supply of cleaner distributed energy anticipating increased demand till 2020 and beyond. ICT-based innovations will provide one of the potentially most cost-effective means to help Member States achieve the 2020 targets.

Infrastructure renewal and grid modernisation are critical to the economy and economic growth, particularly in a globally competitive environment. The efficient deployment of Smart Grids should exploit synergies between telecommunication and energy operators at infrastructure and services level. Smart Grids offer an opportunity to put broadband infrastructure to dual use (for both broadband and smart energy services), either by the utility itself, or via effective joint undertakings between the energy utilities and telecom operators.

Making use of ESIF will support projects with cost-to-performance ratios that are too high to be attractive for commercial stakeholders. The largest cost component of deploying communication networks (up to 80%) is civil engineering. In addition to facilitating broadband deployment, there is a potential for reducing both costs and environmental impact if synergies are established in the implementation of civil works, for example by the re-use of existing ducts or sharing of infrastructure owned by energy utilities.

On the other hand, to achieve interoperability and interconnection between broadband and energy networks, strong coordination of civil engineering projects and initiatives at European level is essential. The results of studies exploring best practices across Europe will be used in the work of European and international standardisation bodies. In addition, on the basis of best practices, requirements for investments and obligations for co-deployment of infrastructure will be explored. If the right conditions for replicability are put in place, the impact at EU level can be ensured, subject to achieving interoperability.

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Thematic fiche

Smart grids

Further reading

Smart Grids Task Force