The Active Demand Side Management (GAD) project has obtained funding of over €11.5 million ($15.7 million) from the Spanish Ministry of Industry under the Research and Development CENIT programme. The goal of the GAD project is energy efficiency through new smart meters, optimising electricity consumption and the associated costs of this consumption in a way that also satisfies consumer needs within the same quality framework.

The GAD consortium is led by Iberdrola, and involves the participation of electricity distribution company Union Fenosa, as well as the Spanish transmission network and electricity system operator Red Electrica. Other members of the consortium include manufacturers of electricity meters and control equipment (Ziv, Orbis) and companies that produce appliances and industrial and residential air conditioning and zoning equipment (Fagor, BSH, Airzone). There are also international firms that specialise in communications solutions (Ericsson, Dimat) and supervision and control systems (Siemens). Last but not least, the consortium is completed with companies with experience in the management of real time data (GDT) and in the engineering of the digital home (Acceda).

The research activities will be given to a total of 14 scientific and technological agents at Spanish universities and national research institutes.

The development of this project will generate sufficient knowledge to identify various consumer patterns and to enable signals to reach both users and electrical goods in homes and businesses. This will allow the user to make decisions based on cost, energy source, environmental impact and comfort, and will allow the electrical goods to be operated at optimal consumption levels. The communications-enabled meter will play a significant role in the project, and an open, public standard metering infrastructure will be defined to serve the needs of an empowered customer.

The GAD project will enable both consumers and their electrical goods to actively participate in demand side management mechanisms based on an innovative communications architecture that goes beyond the electricity meter. The spread of energy generation costs in real time, including the environmental costs, will contribute to user awareness and the subsequent modification of energy consumption patterns, and thus to sustainability.

Finally, the GAD project will play its part in the conservation of the environment in as far as this may contribute to a reduction in new generation needs and new distribution and transport networks, and it will optimise the integration of renewable sources and distributed generation.

The timing of the project is particularly relevant as the Spanish administration is currently studying the enforcement of a new automatic meter management system for all new residential customers by year 2010.