The Italian Smart Grid

Italians built the Colosseum, now can they build the next great monument, a clean energy system with Smart Island and Grid Technologies?

There has been impressive growth of renewable sources of electricity in Italy. The European Union 20-20-20 (20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, 20% of EU energy produced from renewables and 20% improvement in energy efficiency) strategy is well under way in in the Mediterranean boot known for design. Renewable sources already cover 32% of Italy’s national energy production and there are more than 550,000 “prosumers” (producers and consumers of electricity) connected to the electrical grid. While production of electricity from renewable sources alleviates Italy from its heavy dependence on foreign energy sources, which still make up 75% of Italy's primary energy needs, its low predictability has caused imbalance. Like many countries there are management challenges for a network that was engineered according to the requirements of a centralized generation model. That is where SMART Grid technologies can serve. Evolving the country's electrical network to improve efficiency, sustainability and security will take time. Italy was an early adopter of the “smart grid” and have installed more than many countries combined. A smart grid is uses a range of information technology to help existing and new gridlines to reduce electricity waste and energy costs. This has been essential for the Italy’s electrical distribution system. TERNA owns over 98% of the transmission grid in Italy and is responsible for planning, operating and maintaining the transmission system. TERNA has also developed the “Smart Islands” project, consisting of a strategy for a modern, intelligent, innovative, and high-tech future for islands which are not connected to the national electricity grid. Italy is known for leading the way with design and they seem to be designing an electricity system for a low carbon future. The key utility player in the smart grid arena in Italy is ENEL: with over $84.1 billion in revenues it is the largest utility in Italy. Past smart grid projects where ENEL played a key role included Grid4EU, the biggest smart grid project funded by the European Union, and the design and creation of a smart grid for the distribution of electricity inside the Milan World Expo 2015.
Article Daisy Carlson, Photo by Melanie Van Leeuwen Source: