Shaping a New Era in Smart Energy - The Smart Grid in Malta


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The country of Malta is becoming the world's first Smart Grid nation, creating a smart grid using hydroelectic power and powered desalination plants to improve energy efficiency and increase water supply

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Shaping a New Era in Smart Energy - The Smart Grid in Malta

  1. 1. CHAPTER 1 ENhANCEd STrATEGIES The Smart Grid in Malta Power grid innovations in Malta will not only advance utility operations, but improve quality of life on the island for generations to come. O n the Mediterranean island of In light of this need, the Maltese Why are the utility companies in Malta Malta, with a population of about National Utilities for Electricity and making such a significant investment to 400,000 people on a land mass Water — Enemalta Corp. (EMC) and Water reshape their operations? To explore this of just over 300 square kilometers, power, Services Corp. (WSC) — reached a partner- question, it helps to start with a broader water and the economy are intricately ship agreement with IBM to undertake a look at smart grid projects to see how linked. The country depends on electri- complete transformation of its distribu- they create benefits - not just for the com- cally powered desalination plants for over tion networks to improve operational effi- panies making the investment, but for the half of its water supply. In fact, about ciency and customer service levels. IBM local community as well. 75 percent of the cost of water from will replace all 250,000 electricity meters these plants on Malta is directly related with new devices, and connect these and SMart GrID BenefItS to energy production. Meanwhile, rising the existing water meters to advanced A case is often made that basic opera- sea levels threaten Malta’s underground information technology applications. This tional benefits of a smart grid implemen- freshwater source. will enable remote reading, management tation can be achieved largely through an ThE COUNTry dEpENdS ON ELECTrICALLy powered desalination plants for over half of its water supply. Additionally, in line with the Lisbon and monitoring throughout the entire dis- Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) strategy and the other European coun- tribution network. implementation, which yields real-time tries, the government of Malta has set This solution will be integrated with readings for use in billing cycles, reduced an objective of transforming the island new back-office applications for finance, operational cost in the low voltage net- into a competitive knowledge economy billing and cash processes, as well as an work and more control over theft and to encourage investment by foreign advanced analytics tool to transform sen- fraud. In this view, the utility’s operational companies. Meeting all of these goals in sor data into valuable information sup- model is further transformed to improve a relatively short period of time presents porting business decisions and improv- customer relationship management a complex, interconnected series of chal- ing customer service levels. It will also through the introduction of flexible tariffs, lenges that require immediate attention include a portal to enable closer interac- remote customer connection/disconnec- to ensure the country has a sustainable tion with - and more engagement by - the tion, power curtailment options and early and prosperous future. end consumers. outage identification through low voltage grid monitoring. But AMI extended to a broader smart WRITTEN BY grid implementation has the potential to achieve even greater strategic benefits. Carlo Maria Drago — IBM One can see this by simply considering the variety of questions about the impact of Carlo Maria Drago is a business development executive with IBM Global Business Services. He has devel- the carbon footprint of human activity on oped a deep understanding of this industry in customer-facing roles since 1985 when he joined IBM. He the climate and other environmental fac- has held a number of leadership roles, both commercial and technical, at the national and European level tors. What is a realistic tradeoff between within IBM’s industry business unit, IBM sales and distribution and IBM global technology services. energy consumption, energy efficiency Shaping a New Era in Energy
  2. 2. whIte PaPer and economic and political dependencies connected and interdependent world. This Malta is an example of an island that on the local, national and international is especially true in a densely populated, operates a vertically integrated and levels? Which energy sources will be most modern island ecosystem, where the inter- isolated electricity system. Malta has no effective with such tradeoffs? To what play of electricity, water, gas, communica- connections with the European electric- extent can smaller, renewable resources tions and other services is magnified. ity grid and no gas pipelines to supply replace today’s large, fossil-based power These points of intersection take its generators. In the current configura- sources? Where this is possible, how can numerous shapes. For example, on a tion of the energy infrastructure, all of hundreds or thousands of dispersed, inde- national scale, water and sewer services its demand must be fulfilled by the two pendently operated generators be effec- can consume a large portion of the avail- existing power plants, which generate tively monitored? able energy supply. Water service, which power using entirely imported fossil Ultimately, distribution networks need is essential to customer quality of life, fuel. Because of these limitations on to be smart enough to distinguish among also presents distribution issues that are supply, and dependencies on non-native today’s large-scale utility generators; similar in many ways to those embedded resources, electricity distribution must customers producing solar energy for in the electric grid. At a more local scale, be extremely efficient, limiting any loss of their own needs who are virtually discon- cogeneration and micro-Chp generation energy as much as possible. Both techni- nected from the grid; those using a wind plants make the interdependency of elec- cal and commercial losses must be kept power generator and injecting the surplus tricity and gas more visible. Furthermore, fully under control, and theft must be back into the grid; and end-use customers utilities’ experience at providing centrally effectively eliminated from the system requiring marginal or full supply. An even managed services that afford comfort to avoid unfair social accounting and to more dispersed model for distributed gen- and convenience makes the provision ensure proper service levels to all cus- eration will emerge once electric vehicles of additional services - communication, tomers. circulate in towns, placing complex new security, and more - imaginable. But how Estimates of current economic losses in demands on the grid while offering the to make these interconnections effective Malta are in the millions of Euros for just benefit of new storage capabilities to the contributors to quality of life raises real the non-technical losses. At these levels, network. economic questions. Is it sensible to make and with limited generation capacity, qual- an overarching investment in multiple ity of service and ability to satisfy demand InterDePenDenCe services? how can this drive increased at all times is threatened. Straining the Together, water and power distribu- operational efficiency and bring new ben- system even further is the reality that tors, transmission operators, generators, efits to customers? Can a clear return on Malta, without significant natural water market regulators and final customers will investment be demonstrated to investors sources, must rely on a seawater purifica- interact in a much more complex, inter- and bill payers? tion process to supply water to its citi-
  3. 3. CHAPTER 1 ENhANCEd STrATEGIES zens. This desalinization process absorbs population has a sufficient and diverse incentive to become familiar with the roughly one-third of the annual power educational and technical experience Internet as they connect to the utility’s consumption on the island. base. When a company is attracted to website to control their energy bill and But the production process is not the invest in Malta, it benefits from finding investigate enhanced tariffs for more only source of interdependency of elec- local natives with appropriate skills to cost-effective use of basic services. tricity and water as the distribution prin- employ; costs increase if too many foreign ciples of each have strong ties. In most nationals must be brought in to operate ConCluSIon locations in the world, electricity and the company. Therefore, pervasive educa- Malta is famed for its Megalithic Tem- water distribution have opposing charac- tion on information and communication ples - the oldest free-standing buildings teristics that allow them to enjoy some technology-related topics is a priority for in Europe, older than the pyramids of symbiotic benefits. Electricity cannot be the government, aimed at young students, Egypt [1]. But with its smart grid project, effectively stored, so generation needs as well as adult citizens. it stands to be the home of one of the to match and synchronize in time with Therein lies a further - but no less newest and most advanced infrastructure demand. Water service generally has the important - benefit of bringing a smart projects as well. The result of the Maltese opposite characteristic: in fact, it can be grid to Malta. Energy efficiency campaigns smart grid effort will be an end-to-end stored so easily that it is frequently stored supported by smart meters will not only electricity and water transmission and as pre-generation capacity in hydro gen- help its citizens control consumption distribution system. It will not only enable eration. behavior and make more efficient and more efficient consumption of energy and But on an island like Malta, this rela- effective electricity and water operations water, but will completely transform the tionship is turned on its head. There is a reality, but they will prove to be a proj- relationship of Maltese consumers with no natural water to store, and once pro- ect that helps raise the island’s technol- the utilities, while enhancing their educa- duced, purified water should be consumed ogy culture in a new dimension. Meter tion and employment prospects. These rather quickly. If it is produced in excess, installers will deal with palmtop and other benefits go well beyond the traditional then reservoir evaporation and pipeline advanced IT applications, learning to con- calculation of benefits of, for example, WATEr SErvICE GENErALLy has the opposite characteristic: in fact, it can be stored so easily that it is frequently stored as pre-generation capacity in hydro generation. losses can affect the desalinization effort nect the devices not only to the physical a simple AMI-focused project, and dem- and the final efficiency of the process. So electrical infrastructure, but also to the onstrate that a smart grid project in an in Malta, unlike much of the rest of the embedded information infrastructure. island environment can go well beyond world, water providers tend to view cus- From smart home components to value- simply improving utility operations. It tomer demand in a similar way as electric- added services, commercial and industrial can transform the entire community in ity providers, and the demand profiles are players will look to new opportunities that ways that will improve the quality of life in unable to support each other as they can leverage the smart grid infrastructure Malta for generations to come. n elsewhere. in Malta as well, adding highly skilled These are qualitative observations. But jobs and new businesses to the Maltese referenCe if electricity and water networks can be economy. 1 The Bradshaw Foundation, 2009 monitored, and real-time data supplied, Benefits will expand down to the providers can begin to assess important elementary education levels as well. For questions regarding operational and example, it will be possible for schools to financial optimization of the system, visit utility demonstration centers where which will, among other benefits, improve the domestic meter can be presented weBlInK >>>>> reliability and service quality and keep as an educational tool. This potential costs low. includes making energy efficiency a door More information and additional to educational programs on responsible material can be found online at: SoCIetal IMPlICatIonS citizenship, science, mathematics, envi- An additional issue the government of ronmental sustainability and many other Malta faces is its effort to ensure that the key learning areas. Families will find new Shaping a New Era in Energy EUL03002-USEN-00