Smart grids are essential for the transition towards a highly efficient and low-carbon energy system. Nevertheless, their achievement requires considerable investments.
Also, investors need to evaluate the economic return of financial strategies. This is not easily done for smart grids, which require the widespread use of new technologies applied in several industrial and social sectors.
In order to help assess the effectiveness of these investments, Eurelectric (the association that reunites European electric companies, chaired by Enel CEO Fulvio Conti) has recently published a report called The Smartness Barometer – How to quantify smart grid projects and interpret results.
The study refers to demonstration and industrial-scale projects and proposes an assessment method that outlines the technological features of each project, calculates its economic advantages vis-à-vis possible beneficiaries and generally compares costs and benefits.
This type of analysis is particularly significant because the potential advantages of smart grids also depend on the context in which they are developed. Indeed, similar projects can produce different benefits or lead to different scenarios in one country or another.
The Eurelectric report – which will now be further expanded, also by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission – is therefore useful, for instance, to compare aspects regarding technology and cost-effectiveness pertaining to different smart grid projects that are being developed in Europe. And therefore also to provide useful information on the most promising applications in terms of technological efficiency and cost-effectiveness.