Potential for Ireland as International Test Bed for Smart Grid Development

Ireland has already begun to play a leading role in the development of the smart grid and now needs to capitalise on the significant opportunities that exist for business to use Ireland as a test bed given this country’s research, skills and technologies. This is according to a new report published by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and EirGrid.

The report, ‘Ireland –Your Smart Grid Opportunity’, reveals that Ireland has a real opportunity to lead the way internationally as a result of our single electricity market, abundant renewable energy resources, and expertise in information technology, software and communications. This significantly increases the speed at which the rollout of new technologies can be achieved on the island and positions us to become a world leader in this area.

Ireland is already quite advanced in the development of a smart grid network. One of the largest and most comprehensive trials of smart metering internationally is taking place in Ireland, with the rollout of smart meters to 6,500 electricity customers since 2009 and the introduction of In Home Displays (IHDs) and Smart Web access for a sample group of users. This is a pilot initiative being conducted by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), SEAI, ESB Networks and Bord Gais. Up to two million electricity smart meters providing interval consumption data are to be installed in Irish homes as the Smart Grid is rolled out across the country.

The smart grid will bring radical changes in Ireland’s electricity system enabling Irish consumers to better manage their electricity consumption, while also reducing costs and being less carbon intensive. This will be driven through a transition to a smart grid that is more responsive, more dynamic and provides customers with real options to manage their electricity usage and costs. The smart grid will also enable more renewable energy to be connected to our electricity system, helping to secure Ireland’s energy supply and reducing our carbon intensity.

“Achieving an intelligent electricity system will bring significant benefits for consumers and for our economy. The development of the Smart Grid is exciting for all of us as it will provide a platform for real consumer participation. In fact consumer participation will not only become a possibility with the smart grid but also a necessity to maximise the benefits. This will fundamentally and positively change how consumers think about and use electricity,” comments Professor Owen Lewis, chief executive of SEAI.

EirGrid chief executive Dermot Byrne.

EirGrid chief executive Dermot Byrne says: “As a nation with a highly-skilled workforce, Ireland can be at the leading edge of developments in this area. Smart grid technology has the potential to benefit consumers and create opportunities for jobs in Ireland.”

Jerry O’Sullivan, managing director of ESB Networks, adds: “The smart grid is a key enabler for the delivery of climate change, an international challenge facing all of us. The strong expertise and history of delivery within Ireland’s electricity sector combined with focused academic research and government and industry support, is resulting in Ireland being to the forefront in the development of the smart grid. In addition to facilitating delivery of Climate Change targets, this opens many opportunities for the wider economy.”

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