With the European Union’s political 20-20-20 targets, the structure and control of the overall electricity grid is changing towards a smart grid.
In order to optimizing future grid management, end-users will be integrated into the energy system through incentives and several new energy services. Indeed, end-consumers will become active and independent participants in the energy market by either shifting or lowering their electricity usage as a function of both availability of certain energy sources and energy costs, thereby contributing to the development of environment- friendly energy and improvement of energy efficiency.
Smart grids are also a response to the expected increase in complexity in the control of the low-voltage level, which results from amplified fluctuation of current flows due to the high proportion of decentralized energy generation. As such, smart grids will serve to maintain or even increase supply security in this energy landscape.
At present, energy feed can still be handled by conventional means. However, with the rapid growth of decentralized generation and especially weather-dependent generation, measures must be taken to secure a reliable power supply.
In 2007 the German government initiated the E- Energy programme in order to demonstrate the smart energy supply system of the future – the smart grid - in specific model regions. As one of the six selected model regions, the Model City Mannheim project is currently developing a new ICT infrastructure to boost energy efficiency and receptivity for renewable energy as well as to strengthen grid users’ personal responsibility for their energy consumption.
This paper presents the required core elements of a future smart grid.