There are four key market motivators for smart grid build-out: improving reliability and security, improving operating efficiencies and costs, balancing power generation supply and demand, and reducing the overall electrical system’s impact on climate change.
The Czech Republic is committed to increasing the amount of power from renewable resources to 13% by 2020. The growing input of electricity from renewable resources is set to further challenge the existing grid and become an increasing challenge as smart metering can mitigate the volatility of both consumption and production. The concept of smart grid/smart metering is a way for balancing unreliable and scattered renewable energy loads.
According to the European Union directive 2009/72/ES, EU countries are obliged to submit an in-depth assessment report by the end of September 2012 and develop a plan for mass introduction of smart meters so that by the end of 2020 a minimum of 80% of customers are equipped with smart meters. Two companies, _EZ Distribuce, a division of _EZ, and E.ON Distribuce, a division of E.ON, operate the country’s energy distribution system. In order to better attune supply and demand to each other, both companies plan to invest USD billions into distribution networks over the next fifteen years.
Smart meters are currently the highest-profile component of the smart grid, but they are really just a tip of the iceberg. Utilities will devote a majority of their capital budgets to grid infrastructure projects including transmission upgrades, substation automation, and distribution automation.
Smart Grid Pilot Projects
Two pilot projects for testing AMM technology were launched in 2007. A project implemented by _EZ, the major Czech energy utility, comprised 2,000 metering points. The second pilot project for 4,000 points was implemented by E.ON in four selected municipalities in Southern Moravia. For over one year, both projects tested feasibility and reliability of different AMI/AMM technologies.
In 2009, the company _EZ launched a program called Future/E/Motion, which includes a pilot project called Smart Region. Under this project, _EZ will invest USD 30 million into installation and testing of smart technologies in the town Vrchlabi. By 2015, _EZ will install 4,500 smart meters in households and companies, build up the necessary infrastructure for electromobility, install monitoring sensors and local energy generators will be effectively connected to the grid. A tender for suppliers of smart technologies was won by a consortium lead by HP. The consortium is composed of Swiss Landis&Gyr, Austrian Schrack Technik, GE Energy and Czech companies ZPA Smart Energy and Transtech CZ.