In today‘s highly technological world, the generation and delivery of electricity is vital to all global economic sectors. Today‘s electricity generation and transmission infrastructures largely require fossil fuels and are relatively inefficient. As a result, electricity accounts for a significant share of the carbon emissions generated by energy consumption. Smart grids – in which computers and other technologies are used to intelligently integrate the generation, transmission, and consumption of electricity – have the potential to greatly improve the efficiency of this vital energy source.

Implementing smart grids technologies does not allow a “one size fits all” approach. Each smart grid encompasses a diverse spectrum of technologies, applications, and solutions that can vary by country, regional characteristics, and stakeholder drivers. While individual countries will face unique challenges in deploying smart grids technologies, common challenges can be overcome through global coordination and cooperation.

As part of an initiative to drive transformational low carbon, climate friendly technologies, the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate has released a Technology Action Plan: Smart Grids, reviewing the opportunities for smart grids technologies and considering the actions needed to ensure implementation and achieve reductions in related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It covers the most critical areas directly relating to the effective acceleration of smart grids deployment – namely policy and regulations; financing; technology and standards; cyber security and data privacy; and skills and knowledge.

Highlights of the plan include:

1) GHG emissions and mitigation potential

  • Electricity accounts for 38 percent of global GHG emissions in the energy sector, though it only represents 17 percent of total world fuel consumption, because of high dependence on fossil fuels and continuing grid inefficiencies.
  • Smart grids technologies are needed to help reduce these emissions. Smart grids technologies will enable integration of renewable energies into electricity supply, increased use of electricity for transportation, and reduced end-use electricity use through energy efficiency – all resulting in reduced GHG emissions.

2) Development and deployment: Barriers and best practice policies

  • Barriers to the development and deployment of smart grids technologies include policy and regulation, financing, consumer engagement, technology, standards, skills and knowledge, cyber security, and data privacy.
  • Best practice policies encouraging the development and deployment of smart grids technologies include setting out the legislative and market framework to provide the right market environment, implementing full scale projects that develop business cases and test financing arrangements, promoting the development of technology standards, and investing in skills and knowledge.

3) Opportunities to accelerate development and deployment

  • Supporting innovation:
    • Develop a global smart grids technology strategy to work with current research initiatives to integrate and align current development efforts across the globe.
    • Develop and refine methodologies and simulation/analysis tools able to manage an integrated view of complex smart grids systems.
    • Promote international access to global test-beds to verify the coordination, interaction, and interoperability of the overall smart grids solution.
  • Accelerating deployment:
    • Foster the development of skills relevant to the rollout of smart grids technologies by supporting new education programs at universities and institutions, smart grids apprenticeship programs, and skills exchanges among ongoing smart grids programs.
    • Establish a platform to enable international and cross regional smart grids standards development and coordination.
    • Define smart grids cyber security and privacy requirements.
    • Establish a Smart Grids Working Group with associated engagement groups and a clear mandate to foster measures that accelerate smart grids deployment.
  • Facilitating information sharing:
    • Develop and manage a central global repository with past and ongoing smart grids R&D, pilot, and full scale deployment efforts by different entities.
    • Establish a program of workshops and communication sessions on best practices in smart grids financing, coordination, and regulation, targeting those in public sector decision making positions.

To view the Technology Action Plan: Smart Grids click here