Technology roadmap: smart grids
Technology roadmap: smart grids sets out specific steps and describes the milestones that will allow smart grids to help deliver a clean energy future over the coming years.
There is a growing awareness of the urgent need to turn political statements and analytical work into concrete action. To spark this movement, at the request of the G8, the International Energy Agency (IEA) is developing a series of roadmaps for some of the most important technologies. These roadmaps provide solid analytical footing that enables the international community to move forward on specific technologies. Each roadmap develops a growth path for a particular technology from today to 2050, and identifies technology, financing, policy and public engagement milestones that need to be achieved to realise the technology’s full potential. Roadmaps also include a special focus on technology development and diffusion to emerging economies.
This roadmap focuses on smart grids – the infrastructure that enables the delivery of power from generation sources to end-uses to be monitored and managed in real time. Smart grids are required to enable the use of a range of low carbon technologies, such as variable renewable resources and electric vehicles, and to address current concerns with the electricity system infrastructure, such as meeting peak demand with an ageing infrastructure.
Unlike most other low carbon energy technologies, smart grids must be deployed in both existing systems (which in some cases are over 40 years old) as well as within totally new systems. Smart grid technologies must also be installed with minimum disruption to the daily operation of the electricity system. These challenges do not detract, however, from the opportunity to gain significant benefits from developing and deploying smart grids.
Unfortunately, existing misunderstandings of both what smart grids are and the physical and institutional complexity of electricity systems make it difficult to implement smart grids on the scale that is needed. This roadmap sets out specific steps and describes the milestones that will allow smart grids to help deliver a clean energy future over the coming years.