[ Interview ] Bo Normark, Thematic Leader Smart Grids and Electric Storage at InnoEnergy

“We need new solutions to the existing challenges”

Bo Normark is Thematic Leader of Smart Grids and Electric Storage at InnoEnergy and he is bringing his long experience to the development of the Grid2030 Program, the program launched last November by Red Eléctrica de España in collaboration with InnoEnergy. He is an expert in the power industry, more specifically, in smart transmission grid technologies. Bo is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Science, and member of the board of several public and private organizations beyond those, the Swedish Energy Agency or Svenska Kraftnät. Today we have the pleasure of getting some insights from him about the Grid2030 Program:

What actions are indispensable to improve the electricity networks of today?

The change is already happening; Smart Grids are a growth area in Europe because they are a meaningful way of offering substantial economic and environmental benefits. I am a strong believer that innovation and product development must be the focus in order to accelerate the energy transition. We need new solutions to the existing challenges such as demand variations, generation variability, distribution efficiency, emissions and an increased focused on power than energy, … The grid of the future is meant to be more accurate, efficient and easier to control, with a better management and higher transparency.

One of the 2 focus challenges of the Grid2030 Program is to accelerate the widespread deployment of Power Electronics in the system, what is the role of power electronics in a Smart Grid system?

Power electronics have a crucial role especially in the control and facilitation of power transmission and distribution. They are used to eliminate disruptive effects, increasing the quality of the power transmitted and in the form of Smart meters and monitors which allow real-time simulation. Also the use of power electronics in the grid combined with telecommunication technologies improves notably the communication service since it allows consumers to be involved in energy production. Not to forget their role in renewable energy sources integration and electrical vehicles. Overall they provide a more flexible, sustainable and reliable service to the grid. On the consumer side, the power electronics combined with smart ICT enables consumers to get involved, understand and have a better overall experience of their energy utilization.

Now, what about the other challenge, in terms of system flexibility, how can we better manage the different sources of variability?

When it comes to renewable energies, either distributed systems or large-scale plants, the one challenge is intermittency, and this variability challenges the stability of the power systems and power quality. This is why an efficient integration of renewables to power grids requires a substantial transformation of the existing networks towards being more flexible and responsive. The other main source of instability is the demand behaviour that will become ever more challenging with the expected massive electrification of heat and cold, transport, etc… To address those challenges, here are a few areas which need to improve, evolve for this. Firstly we would need to establish efficient electricity-demand and grid management mechanisms aimed to reduce peak loads. Obviously, the introduction of energy storage is also a main area which needs to grow and be efficiently implemented to increase system flexibility and security of supply. Other focus areas would be; to ensure a proper grid operation stability and control and improve interconnections at all levels (international, regional…).

How do you think Grid2030 will impact the electricity network of Spain?

The objective of Red Eléctrica de España through the Grid2030 Program is to act as a catalyst to support the development of smart grid innovations to enter the market to in the next 15 years. The ongoing work with EU battery alliance has clearly illustrated the need to take holistic European view of the entire value chain. This is not about technology only!: the power sector is facing a systemic challenge because of many dimension evolving in parallel: regulatory frameworks, evolution of value chains, business model, and a societal shift in our approach to energy. Grid2030 is thought under this systemic approach and will contribute to deliver concrete solutions and improvements to overcome these challenges. The aim of the Call for Applicants now open is to identify the cutting edge technologies and innovations that can convert into those solutions. We are very excited to look at them and see them in the next phases of the Grid2030 program, in an environment of co-creation towards developing the partnerships and defining the projects. I am convinced this program will lead impactful projects because the initial ingredients are really good; Red Eléctrica de España as a strong TSO with initiative and commitment to lead the change, our expert innovation team in sustainable energy, a couple of important challenge to work on… just missing the participants to take advantage of this one of a kind opportunity!

All information on Grid 2030 is available at: http://www.ree.es/en/red21/rdi/grid2030-program

Contact us at: grid2030@ree.es