Because electricity cannot be stored, the electricity grid must be permanently balanced between supply and demand. The arrival of renewable energies (RE) makes it more difficult to maintain this balance. Flexibility becomes the watchword and networks gain in intelligence. It is under this leitmotif that the Smile project (Smart Ideas to Link Energies) is being developed in Bretagne and in the Pays de la Loire. Winner in March 2016 of the national call for projects “Nouvelle France Industrielle” (New Industrial France), Smile is aiming for the development of a network of large scale smart grids over the 2017 to 2020 period.

In 2010, Bretagne produced 8% of its energy, 15% in 2017 of which more than 80% was renewable energy. It aims to reach 30% to 35% of local renewable energy in 2030 in order to “prevent all energy blackouts” says Maximilien Le Menn, in charge of the Smile project in the Bretagne region.


Long-term assistance


Smile’s goal is to incorporate renewable energies on a large scale in the energy mix of the two regions by optimally adjusting production and consumption. Smile identifies structures that could convey smart grid projects, add value to projects and test out their business model. Finally, it helps project leaders to involve citizens and increase their acceptability. To date, 200 structures have been identified by the programme to lead a smart grid project. Forty to 50 projects are currently supported and 22 have been accredited.


Projects see the light of day


These projects cover various themes: data platforms, smart buildings, micro-networks and self-consumption, renewable energies and flexibility, carbon-free mobility and smart islands. Among the latest projects, the city of Penestin (Morbihan) inaugurated in March 2018 the collective self-consumption equipment Partagélec: 140 photovoltaic panels with a power of 40 KW will produce electricity which will be redistributed locally to 12 businesses and 50 homes located within a 500 metre area. Another project that has started: that of the Island of Ushant in Finistère. The energy transition of the island has resulted in the connection of a tidal turbine, a photovoltaic power station and the installation of electricity storage to reach the goal of 100% renewable by 2030.


Also attractive for foreign companies


As part of SMILE, the Japanese automaker Honda will test its new Honda Power Manager system, a two-way energy transfer system between the power grid, home or vehicle. It must allow the motorist to be a consumer of and contributor to the network in a context where the vehicles of tomorrow will be able to communicate with the smart grid or mini-grids with solar panels and mini-wind turbines, in connection with storage batteries. Power managers will be used with solar panels to create intelligent networks to recharge vehicles, power infrastructure or reinject energy into the network when needed.

The Bretagne Region and the German industrial Enercon have signed a partnership agreement within the framework of the Electric Pact (concluded between Bretagne, the State and Ademe) which also takes place in SMILE. This partnership focuses on R&D cooperation to develop future generations of onshore wind turbines. Enercon will also participate in the search for storage solutions and optimal energy management.

At the European level, exchanges of good practice are ensured within the framework of the European Set-Up programme. However, the structure and projects still lack visibility on the international level. However, cooperation with other European regions on projects would provide access to European H2020 or Interreg funding, which could contribute up to 60% of investment budgets.  Because the programme did not have its own budget, it became necessary to find funding. To date, the projects have raised €61 million, notably thanks to the two regions involved (€3 million each) and the companies RTRE and Enedis (€51 million). The actors of Smile hope to raise €280 million to finance the whole programme, thanks to 45% in public funds and 55% in private investments.


Data protection


For Smile, which aims to shine internationally, it is necessary to work on data protection. Especially since energy is a sensitive subject. For this purpose, a cross-company project has been launched: PRIDE (Regional Platform for Innovation for Energy Data/Plateforme Régionale d’Innovation pour les Données d’Energie), supported by Images et Réseaux and financed by ADEME, for a 36-month period. It is a secure cyber software platform for the collection, processing and visualisation of energy data. It will network and share the data between the various projects in a secure way. It will also analyse the results of regional energy policies at different scales to demonstrate the value of smart grid solutions and projects. In addition, it will contribute to European and international standards on the exchange and protection of data in the energy sector.


Sources : Le Mag Numérique – 01/09/2017,, Usine Digitale – 13/09/2017, Lettre API – 20/09/2017, La Tribune – 08/02/2018, Actu-environnement – 28/06/2018