CE&E Case / Portugal


Portugal: Inovgrid

Project Title Inovgrid
Location Evora, Alentejo, Portugal
Time Period of Project 2011-2014
Link to Project Website https://www.inovgrid.pt/
Key Word Energy Efficiency, Smart Meter, Home Area Network (HAN), etc.


Project Background

From the beginning of the Inovgrid project in Evora, EDP understood the crucial impact of energy efficiency gains on the value of the project. Considering the critical role that customer engagement plays as a prerequisite to change behaviours and increase energy efficiency, EDP implemented in Evora a mix of initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the project and creating a special dynamic. Key stakeholders were identified and multiple initiatives were designed to target specific customer groups and other stakeholders, such as schools, energy professionals and local authorities. Several activities of communication and dissemination of the project were crucial to obtain the involvement of different stakeholders: the InovCity showroom, the Energy Bus, the information spread around the city of Evora, the organization of Conferences and events, the presence in the local press or even the several public sessions held for customers’ clarifications of the project. Additionally, surveys were used to continuously monitor customer attitudes and guide communication decisions.

Figure. Composition of InovGrid Project


EDP’s desire to have impact in terms of customers behaviour reflected in the technical specification of the smart meters, which include  a Home Area Network (HAN) module that allows the flow of information from the system to the customer premises, supplying in-home displays where customers can have real-time access to their “electrical” information. InovGrid technology is used as an open platform, based on public standards, facilitating the development of new in-home tools and services supporting customers’ involvement, which allow to deeply empowering consumers to make smart decisions about electricity consumption. Customer innovative products are under test, leveraging on InovGrid platform, and developed by independent companies like uMeter from Tekever, Mordomus, or RE:DY that allows monitoring consumption and production (for micro-generators) and promoting a more active behaviour of clients towards an efficient energy consumption.

Figure. Home Area Network


After compiling the 2011 catalog of all European Smart Grid projects, the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission has recognized the unique positioning of InovGrid by choosing it as the single case study on which to base the development of its “Guidelines for Conducting a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Smart Grid Projects” [Report EUR 25246 EN]. In 2012, InovGrid was labelled as “EEGI Core Project” by the European Commission EEGI Team, demonstrating that is fully in line with the EEGI objectives. The project was also the choice of the EU as a success story, for the Campaign launched in 2013: “A world you like, with a climate you like”, recognizing the strong impact that the project has in changing consumer habits and behaviours towards an improved electricity landscape.


Case Description

InovGrid, the smart grid project, and InovCity, the city where all the 50 thousand electricity consumers have stepped into the next level of electricity control, are two real examples of the importance and crucial impact that customers have in the development of Smart Grid projects. Having the customer at the center of its strategy, EDP Disbribuicao designed an approach for the implementation of the InovGrid project in the city of Evora (Portugal), having in mind that, on the one hand clear value creation for customer must be achieved, and, on the other hand, that customers must perceive this value. Not only technology educated customers, but mainly ordinary electricity customers, whose focus is mostly on the reduction of the electricity bill arriving month after month. With project InovGrid, EDP Distribuicao seeks to transform its distribution grid and postion it as the answer to several challenges, including: the need for increased energy efficiency; the pressure to reduce costs and increase operational efficiency; the integration of a large share of dispersed generation; the integration of electric vehicles and the desire to empower customers and support the development of new energy services. Results are very encouraging, as a unique study in the European landscape, held by a renowned University, allowed concluding that energy efficiency increased up to 6.6% for sophisticated residential consumers with access to a Home Display. InovGrid is currently being used as a reference demonstration site for several European projects (SuSTAINABLE, S3C, evolvDSO, etc…), that will further allow exploiting active consumer participation in the management of the electricity grid, giving a strong contribution to tackle the present challenge of a renewable energy fueled Planet.


Project Outcomes

  1. InovGrid enables an active participation of customers with innovative solutions, and is of utter importance because its holistic approach to the different involved aspects and its central role acting as an integrated platform, can leverage the development of new business models, that will allow to reduce CO2 emissions, inject more renewable energy in the grid and promote energy efficiency, having a significant impact in contributing to the European Energy targets. An ecosystem was created, where third party companies can develop energy-oriented products and services, that further allow to reach consumers’ needs.
  2. EDP Distribuicao is at the front line where customer involvement is concerned, by including in the smart meter, since the beginning, a gateway that allows a real time flow of information from the system to the customer premises, enabling the use of data for their own benefit: average energy efficiency improvement of 3.9% for 30 thousand consumers in Evora, almost doubling the estimated by Portuguese Regulator in its CBA supporting the national roll-out decision, after more than one year of data certified by an independent specialized company. Some individual consumers even get gains over 20%.
  3. Replication potential is increased by setting a standard and open platform that can leverage innovation. Currently InovGrid project is expanding across Portugal to 6 new locations, covering about 150 thousand consumers, and is participating in large European projects, which allows to have a good vision and an active participation in replication procedures in the international space. The project is being developed in close cooperation with several organizations including Research Institutes and Universities across Europe, Industrial Partners, Local and National Authorities, Energy Sector Associations and Regulators, the involved Communities and other relevant stakeholders. More than 1500 visitors from all continents, have visited Evora InovCity, including several prominent personalities: Mr. Dominique Ristori EC DG-ENER Director or Prince Charles from the UK.
  4. The main innovation of the project InovGrid is the fact that is based on a Smart Grid concept of an open platform supporting market services, making energy users aware of the amount of energy/money/CO2 emissions inherent to each activity in their home/office, namely the ones that consume more energy (e.g. heating). Detailed consumption information, presented in a timely and user friendly way, enables more efficient use of electricity and increased awareness of the environmental impact of each consumption choice. In-home displays are one of the goals of this project which develops a device that has enough flexibility for the customers in the market to choose the most suitable interface for them.
  5. The next developments of InovGrid project focus on i) integration of interoperable standard solutions coming from different suppliers; ii) testing of new technologies developed in close cooperation with R&D organizations, within the different dimensions of the project iii) integration in international projects, contributing with solid results to form future smart grid policy.


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