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Ecole nationale supérieure de l'Énergie, l'Eau et l'Environnement
Engineering school in energy, water and environment
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What are smart grid and buildings ?

What is a smart grid ?

Today electricity grids only offer a unidirectional transfer of electricity from large producers to consumers. This operation does not respond to future demands and new landscape with increasing renewable energies inter alias. Smart grid revolutionaries today state by enabling bidirectional energy exchanges between all users connected to the grid from numerous producers to consumers, which become prosumers (producers and consumers of energy).

All users become real actors in the smart grid. The smart grid faces not only technical challenges to operate all the users in a safe and optimized way but also a change in thinking.

The main objectives of a smart grid are:
  • Grid capacity increase
  • Widespread renewable energy production from microgeneration to offshore wind farms
  • Easy introduction dispersed generation of all size and technologies
  • Grid strengthening for high quality of power
  • Reliability, high security of supply
  • Robustness against perturbations
  • Efficient use of all energies to optimize the whole system
  • Flexibility to meet the future evolutions such as electric vehicles

The smart grid will respond through:
  • ICT (Information Communication Technologies)
  • Social acceptance
  • Advanced technologies
To operate the whole grid intelligence should be distributed with a decentralized architecture to be able to take decisions locally. The parts of the grid should present inter alias self-healing capacities to recover and limit the perturbations in case of a disturbance.

And a smart building?

In that context the buildings are a key element and should become also smart.

A smart building is instrumented to enable to remotely control or program an array of automated home electronic and electric devices by entering a single command and communicating with the grid. It could be equipped with microgeneration or storage to exchange with the grid.
A smart building should offer outstanding thermal performances, even transforming it into a positive energy building. The energy savings are huge in that domain: in France buildings represent 44 % of the energy consumption.
But if a smart building answers the sustainable development and the smart grid demands, it should also bring a high quality of life and comfort for the inhabitants.

Date of update June 13, 2013

Université Grenoble Alpes