Oscar Miranda
President
Smart Grid Mexico
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View from the Top

Smart Grid Technologies Foster Stability

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 16:34

Q: What are the main accomplishments of Smart Grid México in the past year that fosters the implementation of smart grid technologies in Mexico’s electricity market?

A: Smart Grid México was borne from the need of companies within the sector to spread the implications of smart grid technologies. In Mexico there is not enough basic knowledge surrounding these technologies, and a bridge is yet to be created between the technology providers and the users. Companies, specialists, and academics joined forces to create the association in order to represent the interests of the smart grid community. Smart Grid fosters knowledge of the sector, offers solutions, and provides networking mechanisms in order to create synergies between members. The association is also supported by international organizations such as the Global Smart Grid Federation in order to incentivize the growth of the smart grid sector globally and locally. We have an open dialogue with CFE, CENACE, and the Ministry of Energy, and we see that the authorities acknowledged the importance of these technologies and their implementation in the electricity market. It is a well-known fact that smart grid technologies foster economic competitiveness and improve operational processes across the electricity market. When an industry is mature it demands IT technologies in order to ensure its continuous running, and overall smart grid applications make better use of the assets and increase consciousness of energy usage.

Q: How do smart grid technologies help the incorporation of renewable energy in the National Electricity System?

A: Smart meters and sensors are found in strategic areas of the grid, and these help regulate the continuous flow of electricity in a large system. One of the advantages of a smart grid is that it accumulates vast amounts of information that can be used for analysis and helps operators identify areas of improvement. Renewable energies are intermittent and injecting them into the grid on a large scale can cause serious disturbances in the system, but we are using a number of mechanisms in order to incorporate them into the grid. Firstly, large-scale energy storage can enable the grid to receive a constant flow of electricity when required. Another alternative is power electronics that regulate the fluctuations of energy and establish balance mechanisms. The latter requires precise mathematical models and experienced engineers to manage the power electronics. The incorporation of renewables into the national system must be resolved because if it is left unaddressed, then the government will not be able to reach its renewable energy goals. Smart grids are a piece of the puzzle that will allow the integration of renewables into the grid.

Q: What is the true value that smart grid technologies provide to end users and players in the electricity market?

A: Smart grid technologies should be an inherent part of any energy project with an established ROI. Smart grid is not an area that is tackled separately; rather, any project that wishes to modernize or incorporate efficiency must have this ingrained at the core. With the implementation of the Reform, we will begin to see energy players solve the issue of energy storage in different ways, and this will be driven by the innovation capabilities of all players in the market. Having smart grid technologies enables the company, through its control system, to see how it its generating power and know when to dispatch or store energy. New players entering the market stand to benefit the most from smart grid technologies. In Mexico, one of the greatest areas of opportunity is Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), which reduces losses and provides clearer information to the decision support systems.

Q: What actions and strategies have CFE and CENACE implemented in favor of smart grid technologies?

A CFE and CENACE have adopted new missions in the energy industry, and they must accomplish a series of tasks that have been mandated by the Energy Reform. Accessible new technologies could help solve several efficiency issues for these entities. The electricity market must take care when adopting new technologies and it does not have the luxury to experiment with new equipment. We understand that CFE and CENACE have major responsibilities in maintaining the security of the network, so we are trying to help the community understand and adopt best practices, technologies, and offer solutions with strong business cases. Ultimately, only CFE and CENACE have a clear view of their priorities and needs, and as a result, Smart Grid will be aligning its academic and industrial activities to help these entities achieve their goals.