Integration of renewable energy

Increasing integration of renewable energy into national grids

The expansion of renewable energy sources for on-grid electricity generation is a critical aspect of efforts to mitigate climate change. However, two of the most common renewable sources – wind and solar photovoltaic generation – fluctuate in efficiency depending on weather conditions. This inconsistency of supply has important implications for national power transmission grids that must be able to route electricity from power stations dynamically to make up any shortfall in capacity.

The SmartNet consortium was established to address these challenges. The consortium seeks to improve coordination between national grid transmission operators and electricity distributors, as well as to encourage cross-industry research and development into the energy storage technologies required to manage fluctuations in supply and demand.

Vodafone is one of 22 participating members of the SmartNet consortium, supporting the three-year research project. In Spain, we have successfully tested 18 base station sites over the last 18 months to test energy storage during periods of excess grid power generation capacity, then later releasing the energy stored back into the national grid to help address supply shortages.

The research has demonstrated that this scheme could be expanded in the future, where local regulation allows, to make the most of the telecom operators’ power resources and avoid igniting non-renewable power plants.