Italy begins $13.7 million smart grid project


The distribution arm of Italy's biggest utility, Enel (Rome, Italy), has started installing smart grids in Italy, part of its push to develop the technology needed to handle electricity flows from decentralized, fluctuating renewable power sources. Several thousand customers will take part in the $13.7 million pilot project in the southern region of Molise, Enel said in a statement.

The need to develop smart grid technology has been spurred by a rapid growth of renewable energy which is dependent on weather conditions and alternating of day and night.

Enel said its pilot smart grid includes systems for estimating power generated from renewable resources, sensors for the advanced monitoring of grid volumes, and interaction with power generators to provide advanced regulation of input flows.

For the pilot, Siemens (Munich, Germany) built a storage facility using lithium-ion battery technology with a capacity of 0.7 megawatt to modulate flows of electricity.  The pilot will also have recharging stations for electric vehicles and equipment installed in homes to allow customers to monitor their consumption.

Enel is currently implementing a 10-year restructuring of its distribution network of over 1 million kilometers, coordinated with programs for encouraging the introduction of smart grids launched by the European Commission.

 (Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova; editing by James Jukwey)

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