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ISGAN
Overview

The International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) creates a mechanism through which stakeholders from around the world can collaborate to accelerate the development and deployment of smarter electric grids. ISGAN promotes a dynamic exchange of knowledge and best practices, tool development, and project coordination. It aims to improve the understanding and adoption of smart grid technologies, practices, and systems as well as related enabling government policies.

A safe, reliable and clean supply of electricity is a key pre-condition for environmental sustainability and economic prosperity. Nevertheless, around the world, electricity grids are under increasing stress as the sources and uses of electric power become progressively more varied and complex. To address this trend, countries are working to modernize their electricity grids to dynamically integrate all sources and uses of electricity in real-time.

In particular, countries are considering or have begun integrating into their power sectors a range of advanced information, sensing, communications, control, and energy technologies and systems, collectively known as the “smart grid.” Effectively deployed, smart grid technologies can improve the reliability and resilience of the grid, enable the large-scale integration of variable renewable power and the dynamic management of electricity demand, and potentially contribute to gigatonne‐scale reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation and use.

ISGAN is formally organized as the Implementing Agreement for a Co-Operative Programme on Smart Grids under an International Energy Agency (IEA) framework.

Key Accomplishments

ISGAN has catalogued more than 100 smart grid projects from 17 countries to share best practices and lessons learned about the development and deployment of smarter, cleaner electric power systems.

Goals

ISGAN participants work to improve global understanding of the value that smart grids can offer in addressing electricity grid challenges.

Countries bring diverse drivers and approaches to grid modernization, including improving operational efficiency and system reliability; improving electricity market function; reducing losses; differentiating electricity services for consumers; and integrating a range of energy supply and end use technologies, including plug-in electric vehicles and renewable energy, both transmission-scale and distributed.

Through its activities, ISGAN will pursue the following:

  • Develop integrated tool kits for assessing the motivating forces, key systems and institutions, and major projects driving the development of smarter electricity networks
  • Improve international knowledge exchange and develop communities of best practice by leveraging the expertise of governments, research institutions, system operators, power generators, and others
  • Recognize excellence in smart grid projects around the world and support its replication
  • Coordinate joint projects on smart grid-relevant testing and evaluation

For more information about ISGAN, view the ISGAN activities page, read the ISGAN fact sheet, or visit the ISGAN website (http://iea-isgan.org/).

 

Key Activities

The International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) promotes a dynamic exchange of knowledge and best practices, tool development, and project coordination to improve the understanding and adoption of smart grid solutions as well as related enabling government policies. Current information on ISGAN activities can be found at the ISGAN website, http://iea-isgan.org/.

ISGAN continues to implement a wide range of projects. For instance, participants in ISGAN’s Smart Grid International Research Facility Network continue to evaluate protocols for testing advanced photovoltaic inverter grid functionalities.

Progress
  • On a biannual basis, ISGAN assesses each participating government’s motivating drivers and related technology priorities for smart grids. This analysis forms a rational basis for the selection of topics for further attention.
  • An online database captures information on key smart grid projects around the world.
  • When advanced metering infrastructure was identified as the number one smart grid technology priority for ISGAN participants in its initial assessments, ISGAN commissioned and published a book of case studies on the technology. It has also published a case book on advanced demand management.
  • Recognizing the importance of private-sector engagement, ISGAN forged an agreement for formal cooperation with the Global Smart Grid Federation (GSGF), a private-sector counterpart to ISGAN composed of more than a dozen national and regional smart grid stakeholder organizations.
  • In 2014, ISGAN gave out its first annual Award of Excellence recognizing an exemplary project in the area of consumer engagement and empowerment.
  • A number of international workshops have been hosted or co-hosted, covering topics such as knowledge sharing among demonstration projects, coordinated assessment of key smart grid functionalities among test bed facilities, future transmission and distribution needs, and best practices for consumer engagement.
  • Working with the Clean Energy Solutions Center, ISGAN co-hosted several well-attended webinars on smart grid topics, such as methods to assess the level of smartness in the grid and experiences in organizing crosscutting institutions to support smart grid innovation. It regularly co-hosts webinar with the Clean Energy Solutions Center on best practices identified in specific smart grid projects.
  • ISGAN collaborates regularly with the International Energy Agency (IEA). For example, it contributed to the development of a “how-to-guide” for national-level roadmapping of smart grids in distribution networks and the creation of a smart grid chapter that was added for the first time to the IEA's annual Tracking Clean Energy Progress report in 2013.
  • ISGAN launched the new ISGAN website (www.iea-isgan.org) to serve as the central platform for sharing ISGAN’s program and results, as well as a beta version of its online Smart Grid Glossary, which is meant to help build a common international vocabulary for understanding Smart Grid concepts.
Policy opportunities

The International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) recognizes that smarter, cleaner electric grids are vital for maintaining a reliable, resilient, and secure electricity infrastructure that can meet future demand growth, respond to a growing range of customer power needs, and integrate increasingly diverse energy sources. Smart grids are a key enabler for applying most low-carbon energy technologies, including renewables and demand management measures, and can contribute to gigatonne-scale reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation and use.

The International Energy Agency estimated in Energy Technology Perspectives 2010 that the global deployment of smart grids can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 0.9–2.2 gigatonnes annually by 2050, equivalent to the annual emissions of 300–730 mid-sized power plants.

Through its activities and cooperative ties with other grid modernization efforts, ISGAN engages governments and key stakeholders to achieve that potential. By working together, governments can identify common interests and opportunities for cooperation despite the diversity of power sector policy and technology ecosystems globally and persistent differences in national smart grid definitions and approaches. ISGAN’s efforts provide stakeholders with access to valuable lessons learned and best practices from around the world.

Governments can enable the widespread deployment and acceptance of the smart grid by pursuing a variety of smart and complementary activities within five identified areas of emphasis:

  • Policy, Standards, and Regulation: Effective policies, regulation, and institutions are as critical as technology integration for the development and deployment of smart grid solutions. To inform better policymaking at the national, subnational, and local levels, governments might share information on policy-regulatory lessons learned, support replication of proven frameworks, and broker dialogue among the many levels of grid governance.
  • Finance and Business Models: As new generation and end use technologies are integrated into electricity networks, standard utility business models and financing mechanisms are being increasingly proven inadequate for the task. Governments can share knowledge and experiences on novel public- and private-sector models to support deployment of smart grid systems and identify benefit-cost tool kits that can be adapted for use across multiple markets.
  • Technology and Systems Development: Cooperative research, development, and demonstration of precompetitive smart grid technologies using consistent methodologies and testing protocols will advance the state-of-the-art of the industry and allow for more rapid integration of smart grid solutions. Initial opportunities include cataloging existing research and coordinating priority testing activities through networks of research/testing facilities.
  • User and Consumer Engagement: The full benefits offered by smarter grids will be achievable only with the involvement of stakeholders along the full spectrum of the electricity system, from power generation through power transmission and distribution, and ultimately to end-use consumers. Governments can engage with each other to identify the key gaps and opportunities in this area and, from their own experiences, draw out best practices for educating the many power sector stakeholders on the purpose, benefits, and use of smart grids. Governments could also support the replication of proven engagement models in their markets.
  • Workforce Skills and Knowledge: Deploying new smart grid technologies and approaches will require training not only of utility and power industry personnel directly involved with electricity production, transmission, and distribution, but also regulatory staff, information technology and cyber security specialists, and others who will need to deeply understand this complex and potentially transformational suite of technologies, practices, and systems. Governments can work with each other to develop a common vocabulary for discussing smart grid topics, as well as toolkits for educating and empowering the smart grid workforce.
Website
Presentation
Participating countries
Australia
Australia
Canada
Canada
China
China
Denmark
Denmark
European Commission
European Commission
Finland
Finland
France
France
Germany
Germany
India
India
Italy
Italy
Korea
Korea
Mexico
Mexico
Norway
Norway
Russia
Russia
South Africa
South Africa
Spain
Spain
Sweden
Sweden
UAE
United Arab Emirates
United States
United States
Partners