Are Smart Grids the Holy Grail of Future Grid Mix? Economic, Environmental, and Regulatory Opportunities for Smart Grid Development in Northwestern Europe

Authored by: Michele Moretti , Nele Witters , Steven Van Passel , Sylvestre Njakou Djomo

Analysis of Energy Systems

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781498777391
eBook ISBN: 9781315154930
Adobe ISBN:


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In light of the European Union’s objectives on sustainable energy production and supply, several member states have been advocating for the integration of renewable generation, distributed generation, and smart grid (SG) technologies. SGs are recognized by scientists, nongovernmental organizations, and policy makers as a pivotal tool for driving Europe toward an energy-efficient and low-carbon economy. To accelerate the development of SG benefits in Northwest Europe (NWE) and to encourage communities and small-medium enterprises (SMEs), there is a need for a deeper understanding of (1) the level of SG development, (2) the economic and environmental benefits society can receive from SG implementation, and (3) the policies put in place to support SG integration. Three main critical points were recognized in the European SG integration proposition: (1) the lack of overall applicable economic and environmental data, (2) the large amount of components required to fully integrate SG into the existing grids infrastructure, and (3) the existence of several regulatory barriers that limit SG development in NWE. This chapter provides a summary of the potential benefits arising from the development of SG technologies in NWE. More specifically, it consists of three parts: a review of existing economic and environmental impact assessments of SGs, a life cycle assessment (LCA) of the deployment of smarter grid technologies in Belgium, and an analysis of the regulatory status quo and the existing barriers for the deployment of SGs in Northwestern European countries.

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