GE Energy is promoting the development of a smart grid pilot network in Northern Ireland at a so far un-named location. The pilot would allow for a greater number of renewable energy sources such as wind, wave and solar energy to be connected to the existing electrical network.

As chairman of SmartGridIreland, a group of international and local businesses facilitated by the Centre for Competitiveness, GE’s Paddy Turnbull participated in SGI’s smart grid pilot proposal to enterprise minister Arlene Foster in March.

‘Northern Ireland has many competitive advantages in early adoption of a smart grid pilot project,’ said Turnbull. ‘The region is rich in natural resources, and there is an abundance of ICT skills. This project would put Northern Ireland into a leadership position along with the Shetland Isles and southeast England as well as internationally where similar trials were being advanced.’

The proposed pilot project will, says GE, employ communications and advanced metering technologies to demonstrate the benefits and opportunities of alternative supplies of energy while preparing consumers for the social changes taking place nationally.

The smart grid pilot plan, which was prepared after an extensive collaboration by the SGI network, sets out the case for the early local trial of smart grid technologies and was submitted to DETINI (Department of Trade, Enterprise & Development, Northern Ireland) in November 2010. If adopted, this could help Northern Ireland achieve a leading position in this emerging technology sector and also help progress towards the achievement of the European Union 20/20/20 targets.