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A ‘smart’ grid: luxury or necessity?
The energy landscape is facing major challenges. Our energy consumption needs to be reduced and changed, because the environment is at stake. More and more installations are appearing which generate environmentally friendly power. Consumers are becoming producers: they are generating electricity and sending it to the grid themselves.
Consuming less and consuming differently imposes greater demands on the distribution system: to control energy flows better and measure consumption better. That will require ‘smart’ solutions such as electronic meters.
Research into smart meters
Eandis has played a key role in the research on smart meters in Flanders.
First trial project in Leest and Hombeek
n 2010, a first trial project was started up to test the technical feasibility of smart meters for electricity and gas in real life conditions. This study was given the working title ‘Proof of Concept’ or ‘PoC’.
Between April and June 2010, Eandis installed a total of 4,300 smart electricity and gas meters in the homes of residents in Leest and Hombeek, two sub-municipalities in Mechelen. In the months that followed, the functioning of these smart meters was tested and evaluated. The conclusion of the trial? The technical performance of the smart meters was excellent.
Second research project in 14 smart areas
Building on the first practical test in Leest and Hombeek, the go-ahead was given in April 2011 for a new research project. The aim: to install 40,000 smart electricity and gas meters in 14 ‘smart areas’, throughout the Eandis operational area (in Aalst, Antwerp-Luchtbal, Bruges, Ostend, Knokke-Heist, Vilvoorde, Heist-op-den-Berg (Booischot), Turnhout, Herenthout, Koksijde, Kessel-lo (Leuven), Nazareth, Ghent and Zele).
Through this second research project, the techniques that had been used were tested further. More knowledge was gained about the cost of investing in components and the annual costs and benefits of the smart meters. The project was also intended to create greater clarity about the logistical processes that operate on a larger scale.