Sweden’s Not-So-Smart Grid

Sweden develops its smart grid in order to realize its energy efficiency goals.
Published: Wed 13 Mar 2013

It’s time for Sweden to focus on developing a smart grid. This is according to experts who believe that the country has been too focused on the successful deployment of smart meters. The development of the smart grid was overlooked, leaving a structure in which security data is poor. In addition, data delays are being experienced as a result of ageing power lines and relatively outdated technology, used to transmit readings. Measurements are delayed and real-time information is not transmitted to customers. The installed smart meters must also be replaced as the technology is not suited to next-generation smart grid technology, explains Gabriele Riedmann de Trinidad, head of the group business area for energy, Deutsche Telekom. The technology cannot accommodate dynamic tariffs, which react to the availability of power, or the surplus-dependent automatic control of appliances. And savings made by using power-line transmission have been outweighed by the cost of employing large numbers of field engineers to guarantee services. Riedmann suggests that most of the investment made in smart metering will need to be removed and new equipment must now be installed.

Sweden was the first country to install smart meters for its customers in 2009. Estimated meter readings are a thing of the past in Sweden and the time allowed for bills to be corrected by utility companies has been cut from 13 months to two. Customers also have access to consumption data for the previous year. Although the Swedish government’s prompt action accelerated smart metering in the country, the incorporation of comprehensive standards for energy data transmission would have encouraged the development of a much smarter energy provision framework, say experts.

By 2020, the government wants renewables to account for 50% of its power. This requires an increase in renewables at utility-scale and through distributed generation with renewables in the distribution grid. However, government acknowledges that renewables create a challenge for grid operations as the variabilities need to be managed. Sweden is required by the European Union to raise the proportion of renewable energy production in gross final energy consumption to 49% by 2020. However, the country’s grid will put this target at risk as its transmission grids are unable to accommodate the growth in renewable energy. Utilities will need to boost the country’s transmission capacity and grid system reliability.

The nation’s energy consumption and energy production is experiencing many changes. There is an increase in renewables, new applications, and consumers expect more choice. It is therefore essential that the smart grid is developed so that it can accommodate these changes. It is for this reason that the government has established a national Smart Grid Council which will collect, compile and disseminate knowledge of smart grids among stakeholders and society at large.The Council’s action plan will include future scenarios for how smart grids can and should be developed in Sweden, and describe different responsibilities, possible business models, new services, and the research needed.

The smart grid will help Sweden reach its energy efficiency targets through active demand-side services, efficient networks, zero-energy buildings and efficient industry and heat sectors. A smarter grid will also improve consumer choice through independent data management, net-metering and dynamic pricing. In addition, the grid will also assist with regional solutions such as a common Nordic retail market, regionally deployed renewables and joint infrastructure planning of smart grids.

Engerati Analysis

Sweden will need to make significant moves to modernize its electrical grid in order to meet energy efficiency and renewables goals.  

Sources

Guardian-Five destinations embracing smart meter technology

Regeringen-The Importance of Smart Grids for Sweden