By Gary Thomas
'Energy 2020 - A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy' aimed at minimizing energy consumption across the EU-27 by 20% by 2020 called for action in infrastructure, energy efficiency and technology and security and choice for users. The envisioned future Europe will use smart energy enabled by information and technology (ICT) in order to allow users to closely monitor their energy consumption and help energy suppliers to meet demand efficiently.
Since consumers can perform real-time monitoring of their electricity consumption, significant energy-savings are possible. Smart metering in smart homes will help switch off the heating when no one is using it or adjust the lighting based on the activities in the home. Smart grids make sure that energy is supplied to places where there is a need hence wasteful excess capacity is not needed and sometimes erratic renewable energy sources are appropriately integrated.
In order to implement smart grids, the SmartGrids ERA-Net project has commenced, developing transnational research activities to accelerate the development of a 'Smart European Electrical Infrastructure' with support from technology companies, regulator, energy suppliers and end users. The issues encountered while rolling out a smart grid infrastructure, methods to enhance sustainable supply to address regulatory issues and developing effective energy markets will be studied. The main aim of the project is to develop a robust, smart and efficient pan-European grid that can meet future demands.
The 'Future Internet for Smart Energy' (FINSENY) project will deal with this energy-information integration, combining major players from the ICT and energy sectors in order to determine the ICT requirements of smart energy systems. The FINSENY consortium will help optimize energy delivery to buildings, homes, industries and cars.
The 'Internet of Energy for Electric Mobility' (IoE) project is developing software, hardware, and middleware for secure, seamless, secure interoperability and connectivity by connection of the internet with energy grids, specifically with the objective of enabling the extensive use of electric vehicles.
The 'Intelligent Electrical Grid Sensor Communications' (INTEGRIS) project focuses on the use of power lines for data transmission and electricity for smart grid applications.
The 'ICT Roadmap for Energy Efficient Neighbourhoods' (IREEN) project is studying ways to create energy efficient neighbourhoods and communities. There are several other projects being conducted further down the energy chain on ways to save energy within individual homes and buildings.
The projects featured in this article have been funded by the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) for research.