Smart grids = smart development in Latam
Monday, 10 June 2013
Efficiency, reduction in energy losses and sustainability are some of the characteristics of any Smart Grid. Furthermore, deploying them to developing countries brings some other advantages. For instance, they are key to providing an accurate and reliable electricity supply which is essential for supporting an expanding economy.
This is the idea supported by Michele De Nigris and Manlio F. Coviello in their report Smart grids in Latin America and the Caribbean. They analyze the current infrastructure in the region with a deep study into Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Mexico and Jamaica. “Smart grids can be instrumental in enhancing the sustainability of the energy system in the region, contributing to the long term security of supply and to the global system competitiveness”, they conclude.
The authors also make a decalogue with the challenges that the smart grid development has:
- Develop regional and national road maps for smart grids
- Develop a policy framework to promote smart grids
- Adapt the energy regulation to promote smart grids
- Create, collect and disseminate business cases
- Develop and demonstrate smart grids technologies
- Demonstrate distribution automation and smart meters
- Share best practices and know how
- Promote standardization
- Engage public awareness
- Build up on regional skills and excellence
Smart grids’ deployment in the region would bring opportunities in three fields. There are economic ones, such as reduction of direct and indirect labor costs or fraud prevention; environmental ones, such as reducing carbon emissions and finally social advantages, such as the integration of users in managing their energy.
The report assures that “the development and roll-out of smart grids technologies is not a goal per se but a means to achieve the objectives of an accessible, reliable and sustainable electricity supply”.
However there are obviously some handicaps to implanting smart grids in Latin America and the Caribbean. Beyond the economic cost of deploying new grids, the authors point out another difficulty: the electrical engineering studies in the region do not yet address smart grid application. Nevertheless, they trust in the “natural skill of local engineers to address problems and projects using a very pragmatic approach and setting up solutions”.
Actually, there are already some projects to deploy smart grids in some of these countries, such as Chile, Brazil and Panama, where governments are realizing the importance of this technology and they are starting to build the future of their countries.