Energy efficiency is an integral characteristic of the living environment and production that indicates the degree of appropriate use of energy and energy resources. The main technological trends determining energy efficiency can be distributed in three categories: building, transport and infrastructure efficiency.
Increasing building efficiency can currently be achieved through nanotechnologies for new building materials, a new generation of lighting, air conditioning, water supply and water treatment systems, zero-emission residential and public building designs and self-generation of renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal). An increase in energy efficiency in transport can be achieved through public and private electric transport, second-generation biofuels and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emission-neutral technologies. Existing technologies that can increase the efficiency of production and infrastructure are the expanding share of renewable energy sources, gasification and combined gas and steam cycles, new energy saving technologies and means of production, smart and decentralised energy grids, monitoring and management systems for electricity consumption. The new level of energy efficiency is shaped by interrelated, complementary, but also competing technologies and mixes of those technologies.
Against this backdrop, many countries, including the European Union, the USA and Japan, have committed to "Smart Grids"-- a concept for the modernisation of the grid through the integration of electrical and information technologies between each point of generation and each point of consumption of electricity.
What is "Smart Grids" and what can be achieved:
- Electricity grids that can intelligently integrate the behaviour and actions of all entities connected to electricity generation, of all consumers, and of all entities engaged in both generation and consumption, with the aim of efficiently providing an uninterrupted, economic, and secure supply of electricity.
- A combination of software and hardware to achieve more productive routing of electricity and enable consumers to manage their consumption, which is an important part of the solution for the future.
- Bidirectional operation, enabling the integration of small- and large-scale renewable sources of electricity, coupled with distributed power generation. However, with the current infrastructure, it will not be possible to integrate all of the renewable energy sources and any other distributed generation into a grid that is not built for this purpose.
The vision of “Smart Grids” is for a bold and enterprising programme of development, research and demonstration that plans for changes in electricity transmission and distribution networks and identifies the future energy needs of the EU. Europe's electricity networks should be:
- flexible - providing for those needs of consumers that meet future changes and challenges;
- affordable - providing access and connection for all actors in the electrical system, especially for renewables and highly efficient local plants with zero or low carbon emissions;
- reliable - ensuring and improving the security and quality of supply combined with high-tech solutions, risk flexibility and powering through uncertainties;
- cost-effective - delivering the best values, through innovation, effective energy management, competition and regulation.
Current EU energy packages, approved by the European Parliament, foresee that 80% of consumers will have smart measuring systems installed. The transformative impact of “Smart Grids” will be comparable to that of the Internet and information technologies. The exchange of information on such smart grids is estimated to exceed the exchange of information on The World Wide Web by a factor of 100. It is envisaged that local, decentralised smart grids will cover the non-electrified areas of developing countries, instead of centralised networks using old technologies. A huge smart grids industry is expected to grow over the next two to three decades with a new business model, new players and one of the largest global markets by volume for technology, equipment, instrumentation, software and engineering services.
Bulgarian business could occupy some of the profitable niches in this emerging industry, if it manages to position itself in a timely manner and in case there is a long-term dedicated government strategy in place. The transition from emissions-based to clean and cost-effective energy cannot be achieved by discretely transforming parts of the system. Only countries with a clear strategy, an integrated approach, a high degree of flexibility and timely and adequate responses to the rapidly changing technological trends will successfully transform their energy system at a minimal cost. Such an approach is enshrined in the European platform for a new generation of energy production, transmission and distribution networks by 2030.
Bulgaria will have to strictly implement the long-term commitments made by the EU. The question is, how will the state do it? Will it be passively, at the last minute, or will the state actively and consistently rebuild its economy and society, following a well thought-out and long-term strategy of its own? If Bulgaria chooses a wait-and-see approach, the state will not only pay a higher price but will also be affected by a delayed development of its smart grids infrastructure. Bulgaria will continue to sell goods and services with high energy intensity and low added value while continuing to buy goods and services with a higher added value. If, however, it manages to tap into the new global technology and product lines in time, Bulgaria will capture profitable opportunities in the world's new green economic framework. This goal is achievable, probably within two decades.
In the development and deployment of Smart Grids technologies and systems globally, stakeholders can be broadly defined as follows:
- Grid companies (grid owners and operators);
- Energy service companies;
- Technological equipment providers;
- Software solution providers;
- Producers and consumers of electricity;
- Government organisations;
- Research companies;
- Educational training organisations;
We, at El Bonus, aim to be at the forefront of the next energy revolution and can be your trusted partner in this new reality!