Smart Electricity

Many of the industrialized world's electricity networks are aging and inefficient. what is needed today are  "smarter" grids. Grids that are consumer friendly, save energy, reduce costs and increase reliability.

The renewable energy revolution

The energy grids of the future will be a combination of centralized and decentralized renewable electricity production.
These grids will source electricity from large-scale wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and even ocean-based power stations, coupled with small-scale decentralized applications, such as building-integrated solar panels.

Cities, towns and industrial parks will be able to produce their own renewable electricity but still be connected to the big electricity production centres for back up energy needs, or even export excess electricity they may produce on their own.

Super grid

These production centres do not have to be located close to cities or industries.

Long distance efficient cables (HVDC) will provide the link, even over very large distances such as connecting North Africa with Europe.

Similar cables would also allow for connections between large-scale wind power or solar power parks to balance their variable electricity supply even before the electricity reaches the consumption centres.

Such a super grid would help compensate for periods of low wind or sun in some areas by harvesting the wind or sun in other areas, thereby reducing substantially the need for back-up power.
Diagram of a future possible electricity grid rel=
The Future: The operation of grid systems can be shared between central and distributed generators. Control of distributed generators could be aggregated to form microgrids or ‘virtual’ power plants to facilitate their integration both in the physical system and in the market.
© European Communities, 2006

WWF and smart grids

WWF believes large-scale electricity grids urgently need an overhaul to support a transition towards renewable, efficient and sustainable electricity production.
  • We actively support the sustainable development of smart grids and super grids through various projects
  • We develop policy and scientific materials on grids across continents
  • We are closely following European initiatives to build an offshore wind energy super grid
  • We support cooperation between Europe and the Middle East/North Africa region for a common solar power project
  • We work together with Transmission System Operators and others through the Renewable Grid Initiative to a achieve a more sustainable grid


Smart electricity

Electric cars

Electric cars are not only more efficient than internal combustion engines. They also help manage electricity demand by storing electricity in their batteries when supply is abundant, and by injecting electricity on the grid when supply is lower. All electric cars connected to the grid would together form a huge storage system.

Storage

Storing electricity when renewable sources are abundant helps to cope with variability. Next to electrical vehicle batteries, other storage systems play an increasingly important role to support the grid: hydropower storage with dams; hydrogen; molten salt storage in solar thermal electricity plants; and even giant batteries and energy islands.

Smart meters

Traditional electrical meters only measure total consumption and provide no information of when the energy was consumed. Smart meters, on the other hand, provide a way of measuring this information, allowing customers to make informed choices by consuming electricity when renewable electricity is abundantly available and thus, cheaper.
 / ©: Calcars.org
Plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles offer a promising pathway to a sustainable transport future that reduces risks of climate change.
© Calcars.org

Facts & Figures

    • Wind power has overtaken any other electricity source in terms of capacity installed during the year 2008, both in the US and the EU; China and India are quickly catching up.
    • Some countries and regions, like Denmark, German Schleschwig-Holstein, Spanish Castilla-La Mancha and the US state of Texas, are absorbing large quantities of renewable electricity into their grids.

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