Beginning next year and running for four years, some 2,000 residents and business on the Danish island of Bornholm will be the subject of an experiment. The goal: To determine how to develop a grid powered by at least 50 percent renewable energy sources, such as wind power, solar energy and biogas. In announcing its participation in EcoGrid EU, IBM noted that the project borrows themes from its EDISON project, which was launched in 2009 as a smart grid infrastructure for electric vehicles, but adapted for home and office energy use. EcoGrid EU comprises 16 partners from 10 countries, all aiming to develop the smart grid, with Siemens joining in to create a Web-based app for consumer use.
EcoGrid EU features smart grid technology that can be accessed online and via smartphones, and that allows customers to choose when to buy electricity, and at what price. A key aspect of the program is the availability of real-time prices and energy generate from various sources. The consortium believs that by making such information available, consumers will be more likely to make resource- and money-saving choices – and choose renewable energy sources over fossil fuels.
Residents will also receive smart controllers, which will allow them to automate appliances such as dishwashers and water heaters in accordance with energy price changes. They will also receive detailed reports about their energy use, which developers hope will lead to increased conservation. Better monitoring of energy demand will also help prevent power failures, and utility companies will be able to manage their pricing based on demand and storage capacity.
“By taking into account real-time conditions we can increase the use of renewable energy, balance grid load, reduce failures, and accommodate consumer preferences and their desire to reduce energy consumption,” Guido Bartels, general manager of energy and utilities industry at IBM and chairman of Global Smart Grid Federation, said in a statement.
IBM said the EcoGrid EU project will support the European Commission’s 20/20/20 plan, which aims to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent while increasing renewable energy use by 20 percent, all by the year 2020. In Denmark, the goal is to have a 50 percent total renewable energy generation by 2020, up from its current 14 percent.
Lykke Friis, former head of Denmark’s Climate and Energy Ministry, said that the results of the demonstration on Bornholm “will not only be usable in Denmark and Europe, but all over the world. We need an intelligent electricity system which can integrate more wind power and other renewable energy sources.”