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Evaluation methodology of DISCERN research project to boost European Smart Grid implementation

DNV GL developed evaluation methodology to assess the technical and economic performance of smart grid solutions, including a KPI framework and an enhanced SWOT model.

HAMBURG, Germany - 15 November 2016 – The pan-European DISCERN research project has been successfully completed, presenting the results and a set of practical recommendations arising from this comprehensive Smart Grid implementation study.

DISCERN (DIStributed Intelligence for Cost-Effective and Reliable solutioNs) provides Distribution System Operators (DSOs) and other energy industry stakeholders with tools and knowledge to inform their decisions on the planning, design and operation of future networks. The project report provides a wide range of recommendations for the promotion, design, manufacture and delivery of Smart Grids to ensure a secure and high quality supply for the future.

The suite of DISCERN methodologies and tools have proven to be of great value in supporting knowledge sharing between all stakeholders. While each distribution network across Europe will have its own specific characteristics, the DSOs share common aims and challenges. The reusable methodologies and tools developed through DISCERN can be readily adopted by DSOs to help determine optimal levels of intelligence for their specific grids and network context with a greater level of confidence. These methods have also been specifically designed to enable scalability and replicability of the technical solutions.

The world of the Distribution System Operator is changing. Energy usage patterns become more variable and low carbon technologies such as distributed renewable energy and electric vehicles will become wide spread and more difficult to predict. This will place a new set of technical requirements on networks traditionally designed for centralised power distribution supporting predictable load patterns.

In parallel, the maturing range of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions now available make it possible for data to be captured and analysed across the network in ways that were previously not possible, and to control and automate more aspects of the energy system.

DSOs retain the responsibilities of providing secure and reliable networks, ensuring a high quality of supply to customers and delivering this service in a cost-effective manner. To achieve these aims, DSOs need to change the ways distribution grids are designed, operated and maintained to accommodate, and take full advantage of, these new technologies. This multi-dimensional challenge is at the heart of DISCERN.

DNV GL was one of eleven consortium project partners comprising DSOs, technology providers, research institutes and energy consultants, leading the work package to identify and quantify benefits for all stakeholders. The partners have collaboratively developed novel decision support tools designed and tailored to meet real world requirements, and applied these in conjunction with a family of innovative technological solutions for monitoring and controlling Low Voltage (LV) and Medium Voltage (MV) networks.

In the project, DNV GL has been responsible for designing and implementing a key performance indicator (KPI) framework to assess the Smart Grid solutions. The economic evaluation model utilized the KPIs and a generic process model for assessing the benefits of the solutions. The evaluation has been supplemented with in-depth analysis of the regulatory frameworks to determine the impact on the level of economic attractiveness of the solutions. Further, DNV GL implemented an enhanced SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) technique for the qualitative analysis of the technical dimensions, uniquely mapping the layers of SGAM (Smart Grid Architecture Model) to the external and internal elements of the standard analysis technique.

The SGAM, Use Case methodologies and tools developed within DISCERN provide an intuitive approach for communicating and building a common understanding of Smart Grid solutions, allowing DSOs to adopt and adapt solutions in keeping with the DISCERN ‘3L’ approach (Leader, Learner and Listener DSOs).

DISCERN partners:

  • RWE Deutschland AG, Germany (project co-ordinator)
  • ABB, Sweden
  • CIRCE (Research Centre for Energy Resources and Consumption), Spain
  • Unión Fenosa Distribución, Spain
  • Iberdrola Distribución S.A.U., Spain
  • DNV GL
  • OFFIS (Oldenburg Research and Development Institute for Information Technology Tools and Systems), Germany
  • The Royal Institute of Technology (Kungliga Tekniska högskolan), Sweden
  • Scottish and Southern Electric Power Distribution (SSEPD), UK
  • Vattenfall Eldistribution, Sweden
  • ZIV, Spain

More information can be found at

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