The International Energy Agency (IEA) launched a smart grid guide in Mexico City last week as part of a drive to encourage electricity network modernization.
The IEA unveiled the document - How2Guide for Smart Grids in Distribution Networks - to coincide with Mexico’s programme to support deployment of smart grids across the country.
The step-by-step manual aims to guide decision makers through four specific but adaptable phases to plan, envision, blueprint and finally implement, monitor and modify smart grids.
Steps to smart grid deployment
Each phase is divided into steps, both necessary and optional ones, for optimal deployment.
Technical, strategic, regulatory, financial and organisational barriers are described, with possible means to overcome them.
The guide then covers the second phase - outlining a deployment vision - before advising on how to prepare the project roadmap, or implementation plan, and timetable.
Covering the technical aspects of putting the plan into action, the content covers the social, regulatory, customer and financial steps needed for a successful roll-out plus how to design metrics to track and improve service.
It also outlines new technologies, which range from computerised metering that facilitates security and operations to autonomous sensors-based controls for electrical substations.
Four case studies offer insights from programmes like an “eco city” smart grid in China and automated meter management in Italy.
Smart grid priorities
In a statement, the IEA said: "Different countries or regions will emphasise different aspects, so the manual not only describes each such driver but categorises the various technological approaches by their relevance to that priority.
"For instance, automation of substations is a top concern for improving grid reliability but is not usually used to address environmental concerns, while the opposite is largely the case for integrating distributed generation like windmills."
The publication is the second in the How2Guide series after a manual for developing wind power, uses case studies and experience gleaned from IEA workshops to explain how best to incorporate monitoring and management into electricity systems.
According to the IEA report Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2015, smart grid investments worldwide rose 5% in 2013 to reach US$14.9 billion, but despite their potential to address energy system challenges, smart grids are not quickly or easily developed.