Energy and construction companies launch what they say is the first urban neighbourhood smartgrid in France
- Energy, building firms test smartgrid in Paris suburb
- IssyGrid pairs rooftop solar with local power storage
- Residents get comparative data on their energy use
By Geert De Clercq
PARIS, April 6 (Reuters) - A group of French energy and construction companies have launched what they say is the first urban neighbourhood smartgrid in France to test new power network technologies.
The IssyGrid project in Issy-les-Moulineaux, a suburb south of Paris, combines Total solar panels on rooftops with power storage in recycled Renault car batteries and a local power grid that manages electricity produced and consumed in the neighbourhood.
IssyGrid - which includes 1,000 apartments and five office buildings with a total space of over 200,000 square metres - will test the integration of new power, grid and monitoring technologies with a view to rolling these out commercially.
"We want to understand the impact of new smartgrid technologies on the design of the homes and offices we will build in the future," said Eric Mazoyer, head of Bouyguyes Immobilier, which coordinated the project.
Bouygues also plans to launch smartgrid projects in Lyon and Marseille for several hundreds of thousands of square metres of residential and office space.
Smart meters in individual flats give IssyGrid households detailed data about their power use, which allows then to compare their consumption with that of similar households.
"Being able to compare helps people lower their energy use," said Guillaume Langlet, regional head of power grid ERDF.
Consumers can also see when IssyGrid's solar panels produce most power and when power usage in their buildings peaks so that they can boost or reduce their power demand correspondingly, although there is no financial incentive to do that for now.
Langlet said IssyGrid is a precursor of what will be possible following the 5 billion euro nationwide rollout of ERDF's Linky smartmeters in coming years.
ERDF, a unit of state-owned utility EDF, has about 13 smartgrid projects in France, testing out new technologies, such as connection of electric vehicles to local grids and power line communication (PLC) to carry information over power lines.
Smartgrids can help adjust power use to intermittent generation from renewable sources, reduce the need for power lines by integrating locally produced solar and wind, and cut reliance on back-up fossil-fuel fired power plants.
Despite strong encouragement from the European Union, relatively few smart grid projects have moved beyond the experimental stage.
Industry specialists say the technology is ready, but EU-wide adoption hinges on the level of government support for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
"The growth of smart grids will depend mainly on regulation," General Electric smartgrid specialist Laurent Schmitt told reporters.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq, editing by David Evans)
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