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Smart Grids Go Island Hopping in Europe

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IBM (s IBM) said today it joined a smart grid project in Denmark that’s aiming to upgrade the country’s electric transmission grid to handle the large-scale adoption of electric vehicles. The project will start off with test work on a small Danish island before tackling the whole nation.


The Denmark smart grid group, partly backed by the government, is called the EDISON project, a really long (and kind of silly) acronym for “Electric Vehicles in a Distributed and Integrated Market using Sustainable Energy and Open Networks.” IBM didn’t release a timeline for the project, and details on exactly what will be installed were scarce, but the 40,000 people that live on the Danish island of Bornholm will be the first to plug into the new smart grid.

IBM said creating a testbed on the island, which gets a big part of its energy from wind power, will allow the EDISON team to look at how the grid functions as more electric cars are plugged in. The company said its researchers plan to work on technologies that can synchronize the charging of electric cars with the availability of wind power in the system. It has also sent a hardware platform to the Technical University of Denmark for use in large-scale, real-time simulations of electric cars plugging into the grid.

The state-controlled DONG Energy, Denmark’s largest energy company, is also involved in the project, along with regional energy company Oestkraft, the Technical University of Denmark, Siemens, Eurisco, and the Danish Energy Association.

The Danish government is already involved in a major electric car push with Palo Alto, Calif.’s Better Place. Last March, Better Place signed a deal with DONG to bring an electric car charging infrastructure to the country. In January, Better Place said the two closed €103 million ($135.8 million) in financing for the project. With electric cars from the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the charging network is expected to be fully functional by mid-2011.

This is the second island-based smart grid project for Big Blue. Earlier this month, the company said it was planning to build the world’s first national smart grid on the tiny island nation of Malta.