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IBM Joins EcoGrid EU Renewable Energy-Smart Grid Consortium

IBM's signing on as a member of EcoGrid EU, a consortium of companies that is planning a European Union (EU) smart grid demonstration project that will source at least 50% of its electrical power from renewable sources, such as wind, solar and biogas, the Armonk, NY-based information technology leader announced Oct. 13.

Smart grids are central elements in making the transition from fossil fuel-based to clean, renewable energy systems. It will take massive investments in electrical power infrastructure and may take a decade or more to make the transition worldwide. The EcoGrid EU project is likely to speed up the process substantially.

Half-funded by the EU, the four-year, 21 million euro (~US$29 million) EcoGrid EU project is working on a demonstration smart grid that will allow smart devices of all kinds - from advanced metering infrastructure systems down through to smart meters, smart home energy management systems, electric vehicles (EVs) and smart energy TVs and appliances - to make use of renewable electricity based on near real-time pricing.

Denmark's Bornholm Island: The Test Site

The Danish island of Bornholm - population 2,00 - has been selected as the site for the EcoGrid EU's smart grid demonstration system. Approximately every tenth house on the island will be equipped with smart meters.

A Web-based mobile application that runs on smartphones, tablets and PCs will enable homeowners to schedule their electricity purchases online based on near real-time prices.

Project scientists believe that by making this data easily available, eco-conscious Danes will choose to purchase renewable energy over fossil fuels, which will result in cost savings, according to IBM's press release. The EcoGrid EU Web portal will also enable utilities to manage pricing based on supply, demand and available storage capacity. Selected project participants will begin testing the system towards the end of 2012.

“EcoGrid EU is an incredibly promising pilot project, in which Bornholm will become a test island in the future intelligent electricity system,” said Lykke Friis, a former Minister for Climate and Energy in Denmark.

“The results 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. In order to make the setup work in the future, it is necessary to turn all resources in regional grids into active players, exactly as it will happen in Bornholm.”

The EU's 20/20/20 Plan

EcoGrid EU is part of the EU's 20/20/20 plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions 20%, increase renewable energy usage by 20% and improve energy efficiency 20% by 2020. Sixteen companies have joined the EcoGrid EU consortium.

It's also an extension of the Electric Vehicles in a Distributed and Integrate Market (EDISON) project, which was launched in 2009 to demonstrate how a smart grid could be used for large-scale adoption of EVs with electricity sourced from wind power systems.

Denmark has its own, more ambitious goals. Denmark's government has enacted plans to increase renewable energy production to 50% of its total electrical power generation by 2020.

Andrew Burger headshotAndrew Burger

An experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.

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