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IEEE: The expertise to make smart grid a reality

Patricia Arsene

The next video in our interview series features Patricia Arsene, a project officer at DG INFSO, the Directorate General for Information Society and Media. She shares with us insights about her work and about power engineering careers.

The next video in our interview series features Patricia Arsene, a project officer at DG INFSO, the Directorate General for Information Society and Media. She shares with us insights about her work and about power engineering careers.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPTION

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I'm a project officer in the DG Infso, which is the Directorate General for Information Society and Media. I'm a power engineer as a background, and at present I am responsible for monitoring the research projects which are funded within the Framework Programme Seven of the Commission, projects which are dealing with energy efficiency aspects and with smart grids.

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For me, this was a rewarding career. I did it because I want to. It's not that somebody pushed me to do this. But I think that I would make a recommendation, not in general to women, but in general to the young generation, that it will be very good if they will go back to, let's say, the hard sciences, because I think in general it is a lack of interest of the young generation in the so-called hard sciences. It depends on what you like. It depends on how you are inside, but even if it might look very abstract and very, let's say, non-human friendly, in the end it's something wonderful to do. So me, I liked it. I think I would do it again.

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I have to say that I started being a power engineer when there was no discussion of smart grids. So this happened many years ago, and what I can say at present is that we have to be very careful in what, in fact, we understand by smart grid. Is it something that already exists? Is it something that we have to reinvent or only to add elements which will make it, in fact, more reliable and more efficient?

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I think that for the moment we are trying to put together the different ideas and to give an answer. As we saw during this conference and, as me, I see in my daily life with the projects I am monitoring, the researchers, small companies, or the big power companies, the big ICT companies are trying to come together in order to define what the smart grid is. So for the moment, I think that we have to use what we have. We have to take into consideration the experience of the power engineering sector of the ICT, and in fact to try first of all to come to a common understanding of different concepts, because sometimes you are talking about a concept and the two, let's say, families are having a different understanding of it.

In the moment, we are going to have a common definition and in the moment we are going to have, also, a common approach regarding the customer. Then we will be able to define and to implement the smart grid.

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Coming from the Director General dealing with the Information Society, the projects I am monitoring are projects related to the smart grid, but to the ICT part of the grid, so implementing ICT solutions in order to improve the functioning of the grid. The participants coming together in this project are universities, are small and medium enterprises, and they are trying to implement, they are trying to develop solutions which are going to bring improvements to the functioning of the grid. So either related to the control systems, either relating to improving the energy efficiency, either in the end coming to lowering the price of the energy.

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Yes. If we speak of alternatives at, let's say, a European level, being beneficiary of Commission funding, then the participants which are interested, they can ask for funding from the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme. This is called the CIP program, which is complementary, if I can say, to the Framework Programme. There we are dealing more with pilots. It is, in fact, a demonstration and implementation in real time, in real life, of the results of our research project.

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We are talking at this project about pilots. So it's implementation of a solution, which is a result of research, for sure, in real projects. Let's say for instance if we are talking about energy efficiency, if you are talking about demonstrating that we implement an energy efficient solution in buildings, then we select certain types of buildings which are divided in different areas of Europe, by different areas I mean different climatic areas, and the solutions are tested for a duration of 24, 36 months. This is not the Commission deciding. This is the applicant asking for a certain period. The idea is to find solutions which then are then repeatable.

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For the moment, all the projects I am dealing with are in the beginning. So regarding the research projects, they are at the end of the first year of activity, so we are preparing the reviews. So it's too early to say if they will become success stories. As they are in the beginning, they did not have the opportunity to come to demonstration and then, maybe, to ask for funding from the Competitiveness Project. So, with me, I'm doing at present, I do not have any projects in this situation.

It is in the beginning regarding the smart grids. We are having several smart grids projects which are running. Again, they are new projects. They are in the first year of activity, so we cannot say anything about their results. We are going to be able to say more after they are going to be reviewed. We are going to have a new call for proposals for the smart grids at the end of next year, so it will be a new set projects coming out. It is too early for giving any information on the results.

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I was very pleased to participate in this conference. I think that it's something very important for us Europeans that IEEE steps to Europe, because I had the opportunity to participate in the conference the IEEE past organized in Stockholm, which was in fact the first European conference on smart grids. I think that what we need, beyond putting together the ICT and the power sector together, we need also to put together the different understandings, the European and the overseas understanding. Because as we have as one of our priorities, at the Commission level, the international cooperation, this is a true example of international cooperation, because it is not only coming together in projects, but giving the opportunity to experts in the field to come together to such a high level event. This will provide, I think, further developments and probably faster developments.

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