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Smart Grids

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

Smart Grids

Smart Grids enable consumers to control and manage their own energy use and therefore contribute towards establishing a power system that generates less carbon. The European Commission proposes to use these grids to their full capacity in order to achieve its objectives of reducing primary energy consumption.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 24 April 2011 - Smart Grids: from innovation to deployment [COM(2011) 202 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


This Communication proposes several actions which aim to develop Smart Grids * in order to contribute effectively to the European Union’s (EU) Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

According to the European Bio Intelligence study, the use of these grids could:

  • reduce the annual primary energy consumption of the EU energy sector by almost 9 % by 2020;
  • create new jobs;
  • generate additional economic growth.

1st objective: develop common European Smart Grid standards

Since March 2009, the European Standardisation Organisations (ESOs) such as the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) have been responsible for establishing European standards for the interoperability of smart utility meters (for electricity, gas, water and heat) and smart grids. The results of this research are expected in 2012 and will be based in part on the Directive on measuring instruments.

The ESOs also have the task of developing new standards for the interoperability of chargers for electric vehicles with all types of electric vehicles and with all electricity supply points.

The Commission intends to supervise the development of these standards throughout 2011-12.

2nd objective: guarantee data protection and security

In the EU, the protection of personal data is covered by Directive 95/46/EC which applies to the processing of data in any sector, including Smart Grids.

The challenge lies in distinguishing between personal and impersonal data. The Commission believes that it would be sensible to make adaptations in the national legal frameworks in order to accommodate the specific parameters of Smart Grids, whilst protecting the private life of European citizens.

The Commission proposes to guide the changes to national legislation which will accommodate the parameters of Smart Grids, while the ESOs will be responsible for developing the technical standards for these grids, taking the ‘privacy by design’ approach. An expert group shall assess the network and information security of Smart Grids.

3rd objective: incentivise Smart Grid deployment

The deployment of Smart Grids is market-driven. This is the reason why households and companies should have simple access to consumption information so they can keep their energy costs down.

Furthermore, investment in Smart Grids should be incentivised. The Electricity Directive and the Energy Services Directive should enable the emergence of a regulatory framework which provides incentives for such investment.

The Commission plans to define a methodology using national smart meter implementation plans. In addition, it encourages Member States to design action plans for establishing Smart Grids. Specific coordinated action by all the actors involved will be made possible using national regulators and the European Network of Transmission System Operators for electricity (ENTSO-E).

4th objective: develop Smart Grids in a competitive retail market in the interest of consumers

Member States must create transparent retail markets and facilitate competition between providers. Developing Smart Grids in a competitive retail market should encourage consumers to change their behaviour in terms of energy consumption, because they should have real-time access to their exact energy consumption.

To complete this market, the Commission plans to revise the Energy Services Directive in order to draw up minimum requirements for the format and content of information provision for customers. It will monitor the implementation of the Third Energy Package which, in particular, provides for time-of-use pricing and demand response.

5th objective: support innovation

Smart Grids require significant investment in terms of research and development. For example, the European Electricity Grids Initiative (EEGI) was established under the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) to accelerate the deployment of smart grid technologies by 2020. Two other initiatives have the same objectives: the Covenant of Mayors and the Smart Cities and Communities initiatives.

The Commission intends to propose new initiatives similar to those mentioned above, with the aim of promoting the deployment of Smart Grids.

Key terms of the Act

  • Smart Grids: an upgraded electricity network to which two-way digital communication between supplier and consumer, intelligent metering and monitoring systems have been added.

See also

Last updated: 02.08.2011