Each of the honoured projects features innovative components or approaches to grid development that set them apart form common practices in their field. They go beyond the ordinary and involve new and unusual technical ideas, consult people apart from the usual suspects or go out of their way to protect species, ecosystems and landscapes while at the same time striving to achieve a climate-friendly energy system with a reliable grid infrastructure for renewables.
The first award of the evening went to Next Kraftwerke for their “Virtual Power Plant Next Pool”, an undertaking that uses cloud-computing technology and decentralised generators to combine the flexibility of both power producers and consumers into a single virtual power plant. The “Good Practice of the Year” jury chose this project as the “Technology & Design” winner because it is an immense asset in the transformation of the power grid. Both supply and demand flexibility will be increasingly necessary to accommodate fast ramping periods and to address corresponding supply forecast errors. “We are happy to receive the ‘Good Practice of the Year’ Award and are excited to see that others share our view on how to design a sustainable and decentralised power system”, Next Kraftwerke Co-CEO Hendrik Sämisch commented on the win.
Italian grid operator Terna receives the award in the “Environmental Protection” category for innovative technological solutions adopted in laying undersea cables for the electrical interconnection between Italy and Malta, which helped to significantly reduce the impact of the project on the ecosystem and sea beds of the Mediterranean. Engineering solutions implemented have enabled Terna to significantly limit its environmental impact on the marine ecosystem, with particular reference to protecting Posidonia oceanica, an aquatic plant native to the Mediterranean Sea which gives shelter to numerous marine species and protects the coast from erosion. The submarine cable concerned is owned by ENEMALTA.
The jury chose a project that perfectly shows how important it is to utilise local knowledge and engage with stakeholders when building new grids as the award winner for “Communication & Participation”. Danish grid operator Energinet.dk involved landowners in the corridor planning in a simple but innovative way: in group discussions relevant landowners were asked to explore grid location concerns using a map and a string. It is an easily replicable showcase for meaningful involvement in potentially challenging and controversial projects and has been very positively evaluated by the citizens involved. “Energinet.dk is so proud to receive this award. We will continue to have a strong focus on the involvement of landowners and this award motivates us just to make it even better”, said Marian Kaagh Head of the Licensing Department at Energinet.dk.
In addition to the regular category winners the jury wished to extend a special mention to the project “Promotion of Biogas Systems” by the Kenyan Namalare Forest Conservation Group. The jury appreciated the deep positive impact on the local communities the practice has as compared to more advanced European practices. The practice promotes off-grid solutions in combination with biogas as an alternative source of energy in rural Kenya. In addition to providing electricity it also contributes to social welfare, especially among women. “It relies on local resources and the creation of micro-grids as opposed to large-scale solutions, which makes it much more practical for the area”, the jury argues.
The winning practices and 12 other jury favourites from the 2016 competition can be viewed in a brochure illustrating the top award contenders. It can be downloaded here. Apart from the winners it includes commendable practices from grid operators Red Eléctrica de España, California ISO, RTE (France), EVN Bulgaria, EirGrid (Ireland), Amprion (Germany), Litgrid (Lithuania), solar company SMA Solar technology, Portuguese utility company EDP and the American Citizens Energy Corporation.
Our congratulations to the winners and thank you to our incredible jury of experts who donated their time and knowledge to this competition. We are also thankful to the international audit and advisory company MAZARS for once again accompanying the evaluation process in a most helpful and accomplished way.