The Makings of the Future Smart Electricity Network

Innovation

In the future, most people would like to see an increase in the share of renewable energy sources, and by 2030 digitalization and the green transition of the energy supply will be the their highest priority, according to a survey conducted by E.ON Hungária Group.

Prepared for the challenges of the future, the Group plans on spending EUR 1 bln in the near future to develop its electricity network in Hungary.

The company is continuously in search of innovative tools to support the use of renewable energy to ensure grid stability and resilience.

Moreover, E. ON has produced a video series based on the survey's results and lessons learned from the research. In the third and final episode of the show, Gergely Papp. a Hungarian media personality often known by his nickname "Mr. Cheeky", explores how the electricity grid of the future will be built.

The Consensus About Renewable Energy

A recent national survey from E.ON clearly shows that respondents want to see a significant increase in the share of green energy, especially solar and wind, in the future. 92% of respondents emphasized the importance of increasing the role of renewables, with 76% of them calling for more solar power and 65% for more wind.

Survey participants were adamant about the need to improve the electricity grid: increasingly more electricity is needed, utilization of renewables has increased rapidly, and the systems for production and consumption have changed. Whereas in the past electricity was delivered to homes from large, centralized power plants, now numerous customers not only consume but also generate electricity via solar panels. In the past, electricity's journey ended in the home, but now, thanks to solar PV systems, it is being distributed to other users via the electricity grid.

Moreover, the sunlight conditions at different times of the day must also be tracked. Solar panels generate power during daylight hours, which increases the overall amount of energy coming from that source. However, that power is typically consumed later and in other geographical locations. Therefore, in order to be able to take in as much renewable electricity as possible, networks capable of delivering it must be developed. Towards that end, in Hungary E.ON plans to invest EUR 390 million of its own resources this year, and EUR 1 bln on grid development in the near future, which would be considered a substantial investment anywhere in Europe.

Innovation for the Future Network

Looking into the not-too-distant future, the survey shows that most respondents (84%) believe that by 2030 the grid of the future will likely offer more in terms of energy storage. They continue to see a significant role for small-scale household-scale power plants (88%) and even more (89%) think that energy storage will be adjacent to domestic solar panels, e.g. in households. Meanwhile, digitalisation (91%) is expected to be the most certain path for such development, say survey respondents.

E.ON is currently deploying numerous smart solutions and testing many innovations on its electricity network, all of which are meant to address forthcoming challenges. Its energy storage systems help to provide temporary storage for solar generation, which has seen a rapid increase in deployment in recent years,  for example, addressing an increase in demand in the evening, when that stored energy is needed. The advent of solar panels has also made it necessary to address voltage problems. A new device, the mobile voltage regulator, is able to manage voltage problems faster and more cost-effectively than traditional grid installations and can be tailored to the needs of the site. Smart metering sensors installed last year render the operation of a low-voltage network operation and make possible faults visible to the operator, so troubleshooting can begin before a customer calls in a service irregularity.

Via the spread of smart meters into homes, consumers will clearly see the complete transformation of the energy industry that is currently underway. E.ON has steadily increased the proportion of smart meters in its service area in recent years, with 432,000 of them currently in use and more to follow. They have proven indispensable for households with solar panels, enabling them to monitor not only electricity consumption but also the amount of electricity being fed into the grid. Replacing traditional meters, smart meter readings are done remotely, opening up new possibilities for fault detection and repair.

A Glimpse of How the Power Grid of the Future Will Work

E. ON recently launched a video public awareness campaign with television personality Gergely Papp. In these special reports, viewers learn how electricity works, and then Gergely joins E.ON's troubleshooting team to show us what happens behind the scenes, from the first fault signal to turning the power back on. In the third and final episode of the video series, Papp looks at the challenges that the utility faces in the face of increased energy demand and the spread of solar power generation. The series also shows how innovative solutions are helping consumers to enjoy the services of the grid of the future, even today.

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