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[en] To many, a lot of secrets are at the bottom of the often-cited catchphrase 'Smart Grid'. This article gives an overview of the options that information and communication technology (ICT) offers for the restructuring and modernisation of the German power system, in particular with a view towards its development into a Smart Grid and thus tries to reveal these secrets. After a short outline on the development of ICT in terms of technology types and their availability, the further analysis highlights upcoming challenges in all parts of the power value chain and possible solutions for these challenges through the intensified usage of ICT applications. They are examined with regard to their effectiveness and efficiency in the fields of generation, transmission, distribution and supply. Finally, potential obstacles that may defer the introduction of ICT into the power system are shown. The analysis suggests that if certain hurdles are taken, the huge potential of ICT can create additional value in various fields of the whole power value chain. This ranges from increased energy efficiency and the more sophisticated integration of decentralised (renewable) energy plants to a higher security of supply and more efficient organisation of market processes. The results are true for the German power market but can in many areas also be transferred to other industrialised nations with liberalised power markets.
[en] In order to overcome the perverse incentives of excessive maintenance reductions and insufficient network investments arising with incentive regulation of electricity distribution companies, regulators throughout Europe have started regulating service quality. In this paper, we explore the impact of incorporating customers' willingness-to-pay for service quality in benchmarking models on cost efficiency of distribution networks. Therefore, we examine the case of Norway, which features this approach to service quality regulation. We use the data envelopment analysis technique to analyse the effectiveness of such regulatory instruments. Moreover, we discuss the extent to which this indirect regulatory instrument motivates a socially desired service quality level. The results indicate that internalising external or social cost of service quality does not seem to have played an important role in improving cost efficiency in Norwegian distribution utilities.