Ljubljana, 03 July (STA) - Slovenia should start implementing concrete projects for upgrading its power grid to a smart grid as soon as possible. This will provide new opportunities for the Slovenian economy, Ivan Šmon, the technical director of the electricity distribution system operator SODO, said in an interview with the STA.
$It is not as if the grid has been stupid so far,$ he noted,
explaining that the upgrade to a smart grid is a change of concept that
will allow the grid to effectively function as a whole, incorporating both
traditional elements and new ones like dispersed renewable sources, virtual
power plants and energy storage.
The main requirements for a
successful upgrade to smart grids are introducing smart meters and reducing
investment costs of connecting producers of renewables to the grid, he
Based on a directive from 2009, EU members are obliged to
prepare a smart grid cost-benefit analysis by September 2012, and to
install smart metering systems with at least 80% of the consumers where it
is economically reasonable by 2020.
Deriving from a 2010 assessment,
which was updated in 2011 to the newest technological standards, the
upgrade would be reasonable for the entire Slovenian electricity market,
Šmon said, adding that SODO proposes a massive roll-out of smart meters in
the 2014-2019 period with two years of preparations.
operator is now waiting for a green light from the government, which
received the proposal in 2011. Šmon hopes a response will come soon, since
simply letting progress take its own pace would mean that only 30% of
consumers would have smart metres by 2020.
According to Šmon,
several electricity distributors in Slovenia have been running pilot
projects for smart metering systems and some 13% of retail consumers
already had smart meters in 2010. However, only 6% of these fully met the
$Harmonised activity in the
technological, regulatory, economic and sociological area is crucial for an
effective introduction of a smart grid,$ Šmon pointed
Regulation must go hand in hand with the development of
innovative and economically attractive solutions, which must be
appropriately supported through communication with the general public, he
elaborated, adding that consumers must be told that their costs would be
Starting the project as soon as possible will allow
Slovenian industry to take part and stay competitive, he stressed and added
that information and communication technology would play a major role
technically in connecting together the entire system.
If any of the
aspects are neglected, the upgrade may be unsuccessful and Slovenia may
consequently also fail to meet the EU's 20-20-20 energy and environment
targets, he pointed out.
One of the main difficulties in the upgrade
to a smart grid may prove to be funding, as Šmon said SODO and
distribution companies were already unable to secure the funding according
to the current national ten-year energy network development plan.
current development plan, which will be revised for 2013-2022 at the end of
the year, envisages EUR 1.7bn investments needed in the grid until 2020, he
However, in the difficult economic situation, the planned
investments by SODO and distribution companies this year only cover EUR
97.6m of the envisaged EUR 164.1m.
The upgrade is estimated to cost
an additional EUR 320m by 2020, with 60% of the total planned for the
introduction of smart metering systems, Šmon explained.
several ways of collecting funds, ranging from higher fees for encouraging
efficient energy use to a special surcharge on the electricity bill. This
would increase the monthly bill of an average household by 75 cents for the
next five years.