Iberdrola is committed to the development of smart grids with various projects that seek to implement a modern electricity grid in the regions where it has its distribution network. This new infrastructure, which is based on remote management, allows to define new products and services for customers and significantly enhances the quality of supply.
This overhaul of the grid will also help to attain the European Union environmental targets, as it will promote energy efficiency, enable the integration of renewable energy in the system, and foster the roll-out of electric vehicles on a massive scale.
Having successfully completed the first stage of the STAR project (Spanish acronym for Remote Grid Management and Automation System) in 2011 in Castellón, where 100,000 meters were changed, Iberdrola has started to extend the roll-out to all of the regions where it has an electricity distribution grid.
In the Basque Country, the highlight is the initiative the company is engaged in with the Basque Government, via the Basque Energy Entity (EVE), based in the province of Biscay. This project involves the adaptation of over 1,100 transformation centres and the renovation of some 230,000 meters.
Another project worthy of note is PRICE, in which the company is involved along with other partners. This project will involve the installation of some 200,000 smart meters (100,000 by Iberdrola) and the refurbishment of 1,600 transformation centres in the Henares Corridor in the Madrid region, as well as in Guadalajara.
Iberdrola is also making progress in transforming and modernising its electricity distribution grid in other regions, such as Murcia, Extremadura, Castile-La Mancha, Castile and Leon and the Valencia region.
This initiative, which will be completed in the year 2018, will require an overall investment in Spain of some €2,000 million, which will go towards replacing 10.3 million traditional meters with the new smart devices and towards adapting some 80,000 transformation centres, which will be equipped with remote management, supervision and automation capabilities.
It should be highlighted that the development of smart grids also represents a new business opportunity for several companies that operate in the electricity sector and will be a catalyst for economic and social development in Spain. In the last two years, Iberdrola has awarded contracts to various manufacturers and suppliers to the value of €300 million.
As well as the initiatives it is carrying out in Spain, Iberdrola is also about to complete its first smart grid projects in the United States (where it has installed over 550,000 smart meter devices in Maine) and in Scotland, where 30,000 customers in Glasgow will benefit from this new technology.
PRIME technology: public, open and standardised
In order to make this technological commitment possible and as part of its ongoing efforts in the area of innovation, Iberdrola is leading the industrial consortium PRIME (Powerline Inteligent Metering Evolution), which defined the communications protocol that uses low voltage electricity networks to enable remote meter management.
The ultimate aim pursued by this consortium is to set up a remote management system that will allow for interoperability between devices made by different manufacturers, thus encouraging competitiveness in this market. This has allowed for the development of a communications infrastructure for meters that is public, open and standardised.
Thanks to the roll-out of this technology, Iberdrola's Spanish projects have become international benchmarks, as they allow for the use of devices by different manufacturers with full intercommunication capabilities.
Advantages of smart grids
Some of the main advantages of smart grids are the integration of distributed generation, the possibility of rolling out electric vehicles on a mass scale and improved efficiency in electricity consumption. In this latter area, they will allow for the remote provision of services, such as real-time meter-readings, processing contract registrations and cancellations or altering the capacity under contract.
The company will also be able to supervise the electricity grid and detect any kind of anomalies: whether the voltage is correct, whether the power is balanced or whether there are any losses. This information will enable the energy to circulate more efficiently and lead to an improvement in the quality of supply, as there will be a drop in the number of exceptions and their duration.
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