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Nice Grid project: Smart Grids shape the city of tomorrow

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To ensure a stable, reliable power supply while enabling a cleaner, more sustainable energy mix at affordable prices, Smart Grid technologies are used as a means of interconnecting resources and optimising the performance of their networks. Smart Grids are today leading to the emergence of a new concept in sustainable urban environments known as "Smart Cities". The Nice Grid initiative in France is Europe's first smart solar district demonstration project. Partnered by Alstom, it prefigures this new urban model.

By coupling power infrastructure with information technologies, Smart Grids optimise the production and distribution of electricity in real time, based on consumption. Thanks to this exchange of information between consumers, distributors, load aggregators and network managers, Smart Grids organise the balance between the various flows. As a result, Smart Grids address 3 key stakes in a context of exponential growth in electricity demand :

  • Reduce infrastructure investment by adjusting the networks in line with average consumption patterns instead of maximum levels of consumption,
  • Manage consumption level and avoid blackouts,
  • Integrate renewables and their specific constaints (intermittent nature of power generation in dispersed production sites).


Systems intelligence: the nerve centre of network performance

A Smart Grid comprises hardware and software components that interact through information and communications technology. All of this is monitored from a main control room. The architecture of Smart Grids comprises three levels:

  • Traditional grid equipment (substations, lines, etc.) to transmit electricity at low, medium and high voltage.
  • Automated systems that provide a connection between renewable and traditional energy sources, storage solutions and consumers to manage the flow of electricity across the grid. These systems communicate with the control room via dedicated telecommunications solutions.
  • Control rooms using software solutions to manage transactions, balance supply and demand, optimise the flow of electricity across the grid and connect all network facilities.


Alstom is a global leader in mission-critical software solutions with a market share of 13.7%. It is one of the few companies able to offer integrated, real-time management of the multidirectional exchange of information between all aspects of the system..

From Smart Grid to Smart City: Nice Grid, the first smart solar district

The Alpes-Maritimes department in southeast France lies on the periphery of the transmission grid, which is a structural handicap for its electricity supply. However, it also has an abundant supply of renewable energy, especially solar. Headed by ERDF(1),  Nice Grid is the first smart solar district demonstration project in Europe

Several hundreds residential and business customers in Carros are participating in the EDF test project. Equipped with solutions enabling voluntary load shedding, these new prosumers can achieve proactive savings during periods of peak demand by following the operator's recommendations. In addition, in case of an incident, an "islanding" zonewith its own photovoltaic generation capacity and storage facilitiescan be disconnected from the main grid during a time-limited period. This microgrid can independently ensure continuity of service while maintaining the required voltage and frequency along power lines.

Alstom provides a smart energy management solution which controls and optimises the full range of local energy resources available to solar districts in real time. Alstom also supplied its new MaxSineTM eStorage conversion solution to meet energy-storage needs. It charges or drains batteries based on electricity demand across the power grid, thereby reducing the amount of energy required from the operator, RTE.

Alstom is currently involved in more than 30 major demonstration projects for Smart Cities around the world. Alstom uses these projects to test functionality and different combinations of innovative technological solutions.

Facts & Figures

  • Cities currently occupy just 2% of the planet's surface, yet they are home to 50% of the world's population; they use 75% of energy produced and are responsible for 80% of CO2 emissions.
  • By 2030, Electricity demand is forecast to increase by 50-70%. 80% of that growth will occur in non-OECD countries, including 38% in China and 13% in India. Source: World Health Organization
  • The 2012 India blackouts affected  640 people and represented US$108 million in losses for companies (Source: The Confederation of Indian Industry)
  • By 2030, the renewable share of the energy mix will grow by 30% worldwide. This growth is expected to reach 45% in Europe and over 70% in Latin America.
  • Europe aims to reduce its GHG emissions by 20% while increasing the share of renewable energies to 20% and improving energy efficiency by 20%. Source: European Commission
  • Alstom estimates that the Smart Grid market will be worth 50 billion by 2020, compared with 30 billion today.



(1) France's public electricity distribution network manager, Electricité Réseau Distribution France.

Todays electrical networks are evolving into Smart Grids, intelligent infrastructures with a real-time management of electricity and information.