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Smart Grid in America and Europe (Part II)

Past accomplishments and future plans.

Fortnightly Magazine - February 2011

tools useful for all aspects of the grid than the needs of distributed generation, especially when states and local governments handle distribution.

Distributed generation and microgrids are an integral part of smart grid development. They help achieve many smart grid goals such as incorporating renewables and improving reliability. The E.U. and U.S. approaches are different given their different experiences and successes. Although the E.U. historically has more R&D in this area, the new stimulus funding will help the U.S. expand its R&D. The E.U. countries that rely on distributed generation from renewables serve as informative examples for the U.S. While the two governments’ differing views on benefits affect their priorities, this difference does not have to impact the ultimate deployment and penetration of distributed generation and microgrid technologies for both the E.U. and the U.S.

Interconnection, Interoperability, Security 

Smart grid components will involve all aspects of the grid; therefore, interconnection and interoperability standards take on a crucial role. Given the increased use of the communications network for monitoring and consumer involvement, there is also concern that the number of security breaches will rise with the increase in information access points. Digital technology in smart meters can be more susceptible to tampering. In an analogous situation in the U.K. and Scotland, scam artists have been selling electricity illegally to consumers with prepaid meters. The customers usually purchase credits to put on their key cards and pay for electricity they will use in the future by inserting the key cards into the meters. The scam artists sell electricity to unsuspecting customers with false, hacked key cards, the digital code of which may have been rewritten for acceptance by multiple meters for value that the scam artist never paid. The fraud is undiscovered until the next time the customer legitimately recharges his key card. 52 

The E.U. is making standard-setting efforts, including identifying existing international and de facto standards. 53 The Third European Energy Liberalization Package required installation of smart meters, but it did not require baseline capabilities or interoperability abilities. Smart meters and home area networks in different countries do not have to meet E.U. wide technical standards. In different countries, meter manufacturers have used different communication technology applications. 54 Initially, the 2004 Measuring Instruments Directive regulated essential requirements of metering products such as accuracy, durability, and security. 55 The European Commission Standardization Mandate in March 2009 invited European standardization organizations to develop standards for open communication and interoperability architectures for smart meters. 56 The Mandate coordinates with the Open Meter project to create standards by 2011. The Open Meter project is part of the Seventh Framework Program and will address all aspects of the smart meter equipment, including regulations, environment, communication media, protocols, and data formats. For distributed generation and microgrids, standards were based on the type of energy source (wind, solar). Now interdisciplinary committees address interoperability standards based on the connection issues of distributed generation. Another group, made up of 11 organizations, is a knowledge-exchange platform and focuses on grid requirements and certification procedures for all types of distributed generation sources.