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Smart Energy / 07. March

New Smart Grid Actors

Dynamic market development of the smart grid is causing a realignment of actors within the sector structure. Providing the market greater flexibility and more variable management and distribution of large quantities of energy while reducing energy detours, the „smart market“demands new services to ensure innovative industry products. However, this new cast of actors and their interactions may also inadvertently establish a new smart grid quality standard for both technology and the chain of supply.

Who are the new smart grid actors?

New actors operating in smart grid scenarios include those providing energy, reducing energy and offering new services. Services to support new products affecting the amount and flow of energy are considered essential to this new market. Network operators acting within the smart grid are responsible for upholding network capacity.

Distinguished by technology and influencers, relevant players in the smart grid system fall into three general categories of power, energy and the broader environment. Transmission and distribution systems operators are central players in the power sector, which highlights managers and coordinators of balancing groups.

In the energy market, actors operate either on the side of supply or demand.  Those working on the supply side are further differentiated as energy generators (centralized and decentralized) or energy suppliers. These areas include both service providers such as aggregators (suppliers without their own balancing group) and system providers servicing load management, energy storage and reactive power. The liberalized energy market has also given rise to electricity stock traders. The demand side is made up of end-customers described as either private or industrial consumers paying either a flat-rate or according to a detailed listing of energy transactions.

Vague profiles

Although new players have emerged in the liberalized energy market, their profiles within the smart grid system remain imprecise and blurred. Only prosumers and operators of smart meters can be directly linked to smart grid technology and equipment. However, technology is also important to environmental actors, even though this profile still remains vague. These actors include information, communication and data processing developers as well as manufacturers of „smart products“.

Realignment of player interaction

A strong definitional and functionalist approach is used to describe and analyze the networks of smart grid actors. Individual players are listed and their core tasks are defined. Core task interfaces and relationships among single actors and groups of actors are also analyzed. The core tasks, responsibilities and interaction needs of individual actors are determined according to the desired safe and efficient functionality of the smart grid.

Specific recommendations based on stakeholder-specific benefits such as regulation, security and privacy, smart metering, distributed generation and virtual power plants, electric mobility or load management are then made for each area. This management strategy can also be considered a standardization-based regulatory approach.

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