The integration of renewable energy sources into medium voltage networks with both high safety and quality standards will soon become a reality in Europe thanks to GRID4EU, a European Union project that is testing advanced smart grid solutions on a large-scale basis. The initiative was launched in 2011 and has involved 27 partners, including utilities, DSO's, IT companies and research centres across 12 EU countries, and it can count on €54 million of investment, €25 million of which has been funded by Brussels.
Enel Distribuzione, a partner of a project coordinated by the French company ERDF, recently hosted the Advisory Board and the Annual General Assembly in Bologna. Enel presented its own mock-up, which can be integrated with that of five other EU countries: France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
'With this project we are testing innovative solutions that increase ability to connect renewable energy sources without having to build new networks,' said Paola Petroni, Enel Distribuzione's Head of Network Technologies. The experimentation has enabled the identification of solutions by making use of intelligent applications on the existing network to monitor voltage variations that may occur in the presence of a strong penetration of distributed generation.
The next step will be to test these innovative models, which have been developed by Enel in collaboration with Ricerca Sistema Energetico (RSE), Selta, Siemens and Cisco, on a large scale. These technologies will allow for advanced control of the medium voltage network. 'Thanks to a broadband connection, the system will send commands to generators, making them “active elements” in the network's functioning,' said Daniele Stein, Smart Grids Development Unit and GRID4EU Demonstration Project Manager (DEMO4).
Enel Distribuzione is also testing – via investment of €8.2 million – an electricity storage system connected to the medium voltage network in the area of Forlì-Cesena in Italy that will be able to compensate for the voltage variation and intermittency typical of PV solar power production.
GRID4EU is also an important opportunity to share the skills of a number of partners, in order to give way to a greener future for energy and research that develops not only innovative and sustainable technologies, but also defines common standards of use. 'Our task is to study solutions that can be used in the future and that will help us achieve our goals,' Petroni concluded.