What is the problem? Goal : Realising the EU's 2020 targets on climate and energy

Europe has set itself ambitious energy and climate change objectives for 2020: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, to increase the share of renewable energy to 20% and to make a 20% improvement in energy efficiency. The Smart Grid could largely support the realisation of these targets, but it is not a reality yet.

Why is EU Action required? Smart grids are essential for the move to a low carbon economy

A smart grid is an electricity network using digital technology. In addition to electricity flows between suppliers and consumers it delivers information using two-way digital communications. Currently it is uncertain how precisely the smart grid will be implemented. How the environmental benefit from such a smart grid can be optimised needs to be further assessed.

What has the Commission done so far?

Launched a study on "Methodologies to Measure the Potential of Smart Grids for Green House Gas Reductions". Preliminary findings were presented to the EEGI (European Energy Grid Initiative) members at their meeting of 11th September 2011.

Created a working group composed of representatives of the energy utilities (specifically DSOs) and telecom operators to explore potential synergies between the infrastructure requirements for the roll-out of smart grids at distribution level and last mile broadband networks, The conclusions so far indicate that the sharing of backbone infrastructure and last mile connectivity is, in principle, of great interest to both DSOs and telecom operators since such sharing could deliver significant cost and investment savings as well as important reductions in deployment time.

After the launch of M490 to CEN, CENELEC and ETSI, the Commission is participating to the Reference Group for Smart Grid Standards to monitor the progress and to ensure the adoption of new standards within the proposed timeframe. (early 2012).

The Commission has worked to ensure:

  • synergies between energy and digital communications infrastructures are taken into consideration to minimise the economic and emissions costs;
  • the environmental costs and benefits of "smart" functionalities are quantifiable;
  • the emergence of an open and competitive market for smart grid technologies, products and services is not restricted by incompatible data formats or lack of interoperability;

By the end of 2012 the Commission had produced:

  • A paper on the services and functionalities of smart grids together with initiatives related to standardisation with regards to a future smart grid mandate. The task force's report could be used as an input to the European Standards Organisations (CEN/CENELEC/ETSI).