Energy  |  Publications  |  12.08.2013

Smart Grids and the Energy Transformation: Mapping Smart Grid Activities in Germany

This new report from the Heinrich Böll Foundation explores how the essential role smart grids and enhanced information and communication technologies will have to play in Germany in order to provide the required infrastructure for the ongoing Energiewende (energy transition). 

Germany’s energy transition means much more than just a switch to renewable sources: it is a comprehensive technical, economic and socio-cultural paradigm shift of the entire energy system. Not only will primary energy carriers will be replaced, but the entire system of production, transport, distribution and use will undergo a fundamental transformation over a short period of time. In the future, electricity will no longer be transported in a single direction – from several large fossil or nuclear power plants to consumers – but rather, as renewables come to represent an ever increasing share of the total power supply, a multi-directional flow will develop and connect an untold number of new market players.

Information and communications technology (ICT) will be essential to manage the resulting complexity. In the last twenty years, ICT has transformed all industry sectors. In the power sector, which is characterized by long investments cycles, information technologies has taken a long time to significantly take hold. It is only in the last seven years that Europe has seen noticeable progress towards a “smart grid” – a power grid that consistently and systematically integrates ICT.

Germany to a renewable energy economy will not succeed without smart grid technologies. They play an essential part in the Energiewende towards an electricity supply system based on high energy efficiency and changing renewable energy supplies. Upgrading the grid is the most urgent task, but restructuring it has to follow suit.

This report explores these issues in depth and can be accessed in the panel on the right.

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