Iberdrola is embracing new technologies through different projects designed to incorporate modern power grids in the regions where the company operates. This new infrastructure, based on remote control and grid automation, enables the Company to provide clients with new products and services, and entails significantly improved quality of electricity supply.
The grid transformation will also contribute to fulfil the energy and environmental targets in its service areas, by promoting energy efficiency, system integration of renewable energy sources and mass-scale rollout of electric vehicles.
Through its Central Maine Power subsidiary, Iberdrola USA has completed its first smart grid project in the United States with the deployment of an advanced metering infrastructure for its 600,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in the parts of the state of Maine where it operates.
Along these same lines, Iberdrola’s Scottish subsidiary is running smart metering pilot projects in various towns while the conditions for business regulation take shape in the United Kingdom. Iberdrola is also involved in innovative projects such as the “Low Carbon Network Fund” programme to facilitate the integration of renewable generation sources into the British distribution grid.
The deployment of smart grids will provide customers access to useful and relevant information from an Internet portal, including time-based pricing, which will enable them to adopt the best decisions regarding energy consumption. There will be real time data, so that the company can solve power supply issues as quickly as possible. Lastly, the new grid will simplify red tape involved in billing and payment collection.
In Spain, the initiative includes all territories where Iberdrola distributes electricity. It will draw to a close in the year 2018, requiring a total investment of some €2 billion to replace 10.3 million traditional meters with smart devices and to adapt some 80,000 transformer stations, which will be equipped with remote management, monitoring and automation capacities.
It should be noted that the development of smart grids entails new business opportunities for numerous companies in the energy sector, serving as a driving force of regional economic and social development.
Over the past years, Iberdrola has awarded contracts to various manufacturers and suppliers in Spain amounting to € 300 million.
The transformation and modernisation of its electricity distribution grid in Castile-La Mancha is making steady progress. By the end of 2018, there will be over 712,000 supply points with smart meters in the region and approximately 6,000 transformer centres will operate with this type of technology.
By the end of 2013, Iberdrola will have replaced over 70,000 customer meters in the city of Caceres and adapted all 400 transformer substations that make up its power grid in Extremadura.
In 2012, work begun in the city of Pamplona. When finished in 2018, over 360,000 supply points in Navarre will have smart meters and their transformer centres will have been upgraded with this type of technology.
Lastly, by the end of 2018 the approximately 1.6 million supply points served by Iberdrola in Castile and Leon will be fitted with smart meters and the regions’ 15,200 plus transformer stations will also be operating with this type of technology.
PRIME Technology: an open, public standard
In order to make this technological development possible and as part of its commitment to innovation, Iberdrola heads the industrial consortium PRIME (Powerline Intelligent Metering Evolution), which has defined the communications protocol for supporting remote management of the meters, employing low-voltage electricity grids.
This consortium ultimately aims to establish a remote management system that enables interoperability between devices made by different manufacturers whilst favouring market competition. This is why an open, public communications infrastructure standard for meters has been developed.
With roll-out of this technology, Iberdrola’s projects in Spain have become an international benchmark since they allow for using equipment from different manufacturers with full intercommunication capacity.