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Strathclyde Business School

A GEM of an exchange focuses on Smart Grids

By Olivia McGregor - Posted on 28 April 2016

As part of the Masters in Global Energy Management, students organise an exchange with their peers at Dauphine University in Paris to bring together potential future leaders of the energy industry and focus on key energy themes. Here, GEM student Olivia McGregor talks about the Paris leg of the exchange.

The Energy Master Exchange Programme (EMEP), now in its third year, is something that our Global Energy Management class had been looking forward to all term and we arrived at Dauphine University on March 7 to meet our colleagues on the Masters of Carbon Finance course.

The exchange this year took its theme as ‘Smart Grids’. Smart Grids are recognised as the solution to enabling a secure, reliable and flexible electricity grid. It integrates existing electricity infrastructure with information and communication technology to provide an active and resilient grid. We began our exchange with some interesting speakers who introduced us to the topic as a whole. Patrice Geoffron, a Dauphine professor, outlined the legal and political context in which Smart Grids in France are developing. A major focus is on the ability of the smart gird to enable renewable and low carbon generation to become a larger part of the national energy mix.

For France, this encourages the use of electric plug-in vehicles, smart metering in homes and a range of variable sources such as wind and solar. President of the French Association for Energy Economics, Christophe Bonnery, then spoke about the practical deployment of smart grids in France. ERDF is France’s largest utility company and is responsible for distributing 95% of the country’s electricity. Their strategy to deploy Smart Meters aims to empower customers to monitor and control their electricity consumption in order to reduce costs and smooth over times of peak demand that currently put stress on the electricity system.

After a late night tour of Paris and a stroll by the Eiffel Tower, we headed to the ERDF showroom on Friday to see how these Smart Girds worked in practice. We were shown a simulation of the Smart Grid infrastructure application and how the technologies are able to detect faults in the system and repair themselves quickly in order to reduce maintenance costs and avoid black outs. ERDF plans to deploy 35 million Smart Meters by 2030 and we were shown a typical ‘Smart home’ and how electricity would automatically shift from appliance to TV to charging the electrical vehicle in the garage at different times of the day.

We got to know our French colleagues properly over lunch and a subsequent train ride to the outskirts of Paris where we arrived at ‘Le Hive’ – Schneider Electric’s global headquarters. Schneider Electric specialises in energy management with expertise in automation and technologies and we were very impressed by their showcase for Smart Grids. Employees Bertrand Guarinos and Pierrick Guermeur informed us of the Hive’s energy system optimisation to reduce the building’s energy consumption followed by an overview of a local Smart Grid pilot project.

In a future blog, Olivia will cover the Glasgow leg of the exchange. Have you benefited from such an exchange? Let us know.

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