Quito, Ecuador --- (METERING.COM) --- March 20, 2013 - A smart grid roadmap has been launched in Ecuador setting out a vision and plan to modernize the country’s grid with advanced technologies and information and communication technologies by 2030.

The broad goals of the Smart Grids Ecuador initiative (Programa Redes Inteligentes Ecuador, REDIE), which is promoted by the electricity and renewable energy ministry (MEER), are to enable real time operation of the grid and promote the efficient use of energy.

Other key participants include the electricity regulator Conelec, the national electric corporation Celec, and the wholesale market administrator Cenace, along with Colombia-based RC Consulting.

The roadmap presents a three phrase program, with the five objectives to reduce losses, introduce new technologies with high benefit-cost value, improve quality of supply at a reasonable cost, develop the requisite human resources, and maximize the use of the electricity infrastructure.

The defined areas of focus are generation, transmission, distribution, the consumer and general (this latter including topics such as standards, operations and management).

The three phases, which have been developed also taking into account the investments that will be required and the expected cost-benefits, are:

  • Phase 1 – 2013-2017, in which foundational technologies such as SCADA, AMI and substation automation will be put in place, electric vehicles for private and public use will be introduced, and the transmission network and generation capacity will be expanded
  • Phase 2 – 2018-2022, in which more advanced technologies such as FACTS and volt/var control, and distributed generation will be introduced
  • Phase 3 – 2023-2030, in which advanced applications such as wide area monitoring and control and microgrids will be introduced, and load management will be put in place.

Within the scope of REDIE, several key projects are already well under way. Among these are the 1,500 MW Coca Codo Sinclair, 487 MW Sopladora and 253 MW Toachi Pilatón hydro projects, which will increase Ecuador’s hydro generation share to 90 percent by 2017, and the 16.5 MW Villonaco wind project among others.

The strengthening of the transmission network with the addition of lines and 230 kV substations is also under way. Shortly the construction of a 500 kV network for transmission from Coca Codo Sinclair and regional integration will be awarded.

Alongside the launch of the roadmap in January, an accord was signed by the minister of electricity and renewable energy Esteban Albornoz Vintimilla formalizing the REDIE program and creating executive and technical committees, to be coordinated and led by the ministry, to execute the program.

With this Ecuador becomes the first country in Latin American to formally launch a national smart grid program.