What is, actually, a smart grid? Where’s the priorities list for the coming years? Who pays for the intake of renewable energy, which already developed below expectations? And generally, he who pays… There were many questions at the Conference style “ Romania can secure its energy independence by smart solutions instead of exhausting its resource ”, organized by KIC InnoEnergy, in a collaboration with Energy-Center.ro.
I think there will be more questions, and more specific ones, as generally we think we know how to become independent – switching (spelled with “S” like shale) to other gas, for instance – but forgetting to stop (with an “S” like smart) wasting energy, or spelling “independence” with an “I” like innovation in cleaner energy projects, or in ones cutting our consumption and implicitly our bills. Of course, we know very well – and it’s very legitimate, too – we don’t want to pay more on our already exaggerated bills; we know less that such projects can get financing from European funds or even from private investors.
For instance, using an analogy in this field, KIC InnoEnergy is a grid; it is supplied by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology; its nodes are in Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Poland (I was about to write “Poland, of course, because of the country’s smart dynamics in the recent past, not just in energy); they connect ideas, technology, and obviously consumers. Projects are plugged from any consortium of three to seven European organizations in industry and research. The only prerequisites are smart ideas and market orientation.
In 2014, KIC’s list includes more than 60 such projects for which it already identified financing and prepares the market launching. Projects range from the ways of turning a home into a miniature power plant or into a LPG station for the car to cooling your house in the summer using the heating installation and so on.
Where do we stand in this field? As nowadays we face the possibility of not getting running hot water anymore, you’d think innovation and smart things are hardly our concern.
You’d be surprised, for instance, when the director of the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in Valcea, Mihai Varlam, does not talk about preoccupations for this promising field (as we’re used to hear promises), but rather about practical applications, about concrete things already done or impending. And yes, there actually is a Romanian car powered by hydrogen fuel cells with an autonomy of 250 kilometers, not just a couple of dozens. Yes, 250 km, and yes, Valcea. If they continue their smart research also for European, budget, and even private funds, our researchers might get the roads hoarded with hybrid cars before a motorway runs through Valcea. Of course, one flower… But put a “battery” of such projects on the table, and you’ll hear a different discourse about energy independence. Hopefully, a smarter one.