Russia to invest in smart grid electrical infrastructure

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December 22, 2014
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Photo of power lines in Russia.
Zapadnaya, a new substation for the 500 kW Moscow energy ring, commissioned in the Krasnogorsk district, Moscow region, by the federal grid company "United Energy Systems," © Vladimir Fedorenko, RIA Novosti.

As the world’s third largest consumer of energy, Russia has announced plans to modernize its energy infrastructure, expanding its use of the smart grid electrical framework to make its energy transmission more efficient and less wasteful.

Smart grid technology is already in use in Russia, but as the current distribution infrastructure loses 12 percent of its transmitted energy (comparatively, Europe electrical network losses rest at only 4-9 percent), which adds up to a loss of $10 billion per year, there is an incentive to expand the use of the technology. The Russian power transmission and distribution company, JSC Russian Grids, has identified the smart grid as a solution, and has secured partial funding from the National Welfare Fund (NWF).

In fact, according to a report by Zpryme, Russia’s smart grid system is expected to grow from $5.5 billion in 2012 to $15.7 billion by 2017.

Smart metering for smart savings

Part of the focus of the smart grid project’s efforts will be to update billing and metering systems, so as to reduce electricity losses. Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, said:, “One of RDIF’s objectives is to invest in projects which help to improve the efficiency of Russian companies. New investment will help Russian grids to substantially reduce electricity losses. The deal was structured in a way to invest NWF’s assets in the most protected manner.”

First stage

The primary extension of Russia’s smart grid framework will be tested in the Kaliningrad, Yaroslavl and Tula regions, where there is a particular need to respond to inefficient loss of energy. If the program’s first stage is successful, the smart grid model will be adopted in additional regions.

What are smart grids anyway?

Smart grid technology integrates each aspect of the electric grid system into a single, unified arrangement, so that there is consistent monitoring throughout every stage of the electric generation, transmission and consumption process.

Furthermore, the old system for payment within the energy market has many loopholes and limitations, which smart grid technology can eliminate, by means of its streamlining and contained approach to energy.

Russia’s Federal Grid Company CEO Oleg Budargin said, “We haven’t missed the smart grid train yet,” and added that the upgrade of the grid could reduce electricity losses by 25 percent and save as much as 35 billion kWh of power.

What are some other ways, beyond smart grid electrical infrastructure, that Russia could use to enhance its energy efficiency?

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