The Nice Grid project is one of 15 smart grid demonstration projects in which Alstom is actively participating around the world. The project will study and test the economic, technical and social issues related to microgrids of the future. These include the optimisation and use of medium and low voltage networks with a massive contribution from decentralised and variable renewable energy sources (principally photovoltaic) as well as the behaviour of customers, who will become agents for their own production, consumption and storage of electricity. Also to be studied is the operation of an independent consumption zone equipped with energy storage resources and isolated from the main network.
Nice Grid will interconnect smart homes, smart industrial buildings, energy storage and a large number of solar panels.
The balance of energy on the grid will rely on larger volumes of distributed energy resources (renewable energy, demand response and storage). Because today’s distribution network does not accommodate these new types of energy flows, smart local optimisation is needed, while maintaining the quality and security of energy supply.
... And tomorrow
Microgrids are the building blocks of tomorrow’s smart cities. They take full advantage of the flexibility of “prosumers” (consumers who also produce electricity) while integrating new distributed energy resources and storage solutions. Fragile areas susceptible to blackouts, as well as densely populated cities, will eventually be made up of autonomous grids within an overall smart grid able to survive major disturbances. Tomorrow’s energy management systems will be designed around a decentralised, multilayer architecture, where microgrids provide the local intelligence and optimisation. New sources of renewable energies such as biomass and microhydro solutions, as well as new storage solutions, will be integrated at the local level. Local microgrids and smart campuses will be part of smart districts, which in turn will be part of smart cities, with each layer optimising the layer below to build up the overall smart grid infrastructure.