Microgrids have been called “the impatient upstarts of our energy future”. They are independent, small-scale electricity systems for communities, towns, campuses and even individuals, delivering integrated distributed renewable energy, improved grid reliability, personal energy use data and customised control.
Although they are a hot topic, few fully commercialised state-of-the-art microgrids with significant generation capacity are actually up and running. Nice Grid, a living laboratory located near Nice in the south of France, is one of the rare demonstrations of microgrids in the world. The project, which is expected to last four years, brings together the French distribution network operator, the electricity supplier, Council member Alstom Grid, battery maker Saft, and other industrial partners and innovative SMEs. The project has been selected as one of the six smart grid demonstrators of the European Union’s Grid4EU programme. It will test an innovative architecture for medium and low voltage distribution networks with smart houses capable of managing their electricity needs and new architectures called Virtual Power Plants to run them.
A total of 1,500 residential, commercial and industrial end users are expected to participate in the experiment, which will study and test the economic, technical and social issues related to microgrids of the future.
Nice Grid is one of many smart grid demonstration projects Alstom is actively participating in around the world.