IEC - International Electrotechnical Commission

05/22/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/22/2024 08:04

The benefits of smart grids

Electricity demand around the world is expected to sky-rocket as we switch to electric-powered vehicles, heat pumps for our homes and pursue the vast digital transformation of society. Alarm bells have been rung about the ability of the grid to meet this increasing demand, starting with the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

One of the solutions touted by experts is the use of smart grid technology as a less costly way of ensuring the grid can cope than investing in new or expanded networks. The IEC Electropedia defines the smart grid as an electric power system that utilizes information exchange and control technologies, distributed computing and associated sensors and actuators, for purposes such as the integration of the behaviour and actions of the network users and other stakeholders as well as efficiently deliver sustainable, economic and secure electricity supplies.

According to the IEA, in a report that tracks the advancement of smart grids around the world, significant levels of investment in smart grid tech have been made in many countries around the world - even if much more needs to be done. Several examples are given, including the EU action plan Digitalisation of the energy system. The European Commission expects about EUR 584 billion (USD 633 billion) of investments in the European electricity grid by 2030, of which EUR 170 billion (USD 184 billion) would be for digitalization which includes smart meters, automated grid management, digital technologies for metering and improvement on the field operations.

Where standards can help

IEC Standards pave the way for smart grid technologies to be used safely and efficiently. IEC TC 120 was set up to publish standards in the field of grid integrated electrical energy storage (EES) systems to support grid requirements. The TC is working on a new standard, IEC 62933-5-4, which will specify safety test methods and procedures for lithium-ion battery-based systems for energy storage. IEC TC 57 is the IEC committee which prepares core standards for the smart grid, notably the IEC 61850 series. They deal with substation automation, two-way information exchange, global control functions, renewable energy integration and cyber security, to name but a few. IEC TC 13 prepares key standards in the field of electrical energy measurement and control, for smart metering equipment and systems forming part of smart grids.

A subcommittee of IEC TC 8 prepares standards dealing with the integration of renewable energy systems in the grid. One of the four IEC Conformity Assessment (CA) Systems, IECRE (IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Renewable Energy Applications), is the internationally accepted CA system for all power plants producing, storing or converting energy from solar PV, wind and various forms of marine energy.

The IEC Systems Committee for Smart Energy (SyC Smart Energy) helps to coordinate and guide the various efforts across these different IEC technical committees. It is for instance working on a document, IEC 63460, that will describe the architecture and use cases for electric vehicles (EVs) to provide grid support functions. Most of this standard will be concerned with identifying realistic EV charging and discharging configurations, and the communication and control between the various actors, grid system operators, aggregators, premises energy management and EV charging systems. The results from this document will hopefully help other IEC technical committees to take the grid-support capabilities of EVs into account as they develop their own standards.

Read the full article in e-tech, which contains a lot more information, including about vehicle- to-grid distributed energy resources and energy storage.