Madrid, Spain --- (METERING.COM) --- June 10, 2010 - Two major European research initiatives were formally launched last week that are expected to significantly advance the development of smart grids in Europe.

These are the Electricity Grid Initiative (EEGI) being led by the European transmission and distribution system operators’ associations, ENTSO-E (European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity) and EDSO-SG (European Distribution System Operators Association for Smart Grids), and the European Energy Research Alliance’s (EERA) Joint Program (JP) on Smart Grids.

The EEGI is one of eight European Industrial Initiatives (EEIs) that are being established under the European Commission’s Strategic Energy Technologies Plan (SET-PLAN), and proposes a 9-year research, development and demonstration program to accelerate the development of smart grids in Europe through developing, demonstrating and validating, at scale, technologies, system integration and processes. The program, with an estimated cost of €2 billion, is focused on system innovation rather than on technology innovation, and will cover more than 30 project areas – 14 on the transmission networks, 12 on the distribution networks, and five on network coordination (see Roadmap and implementation plan for European smart grid prepared).

The SET-PLAN is aimed at accelerating the development and deployment of cost effective low carbon technologies in Europe. Other EEIs are on bioenergy, CO2 capture, transport and storage, fuel cells and hydrogen, nuclear, energy efficiency/smart cities, solar, and wind.

The EERA’s smart grid program is one of nine joint research programs that are being set up by the EERA to support the SET-PLAN. The initial focus of the smart grid JP will be on four areas that have been identified as of common interest to the participants, namely network operation, energy management, control system interoperability, and electrical storage technologies.

The EERA is an alliance of leading European research institutes that are seeking, through the JPs, to pool and integrate their activities and resources and thereby maximize their complementarities and synergies. To date 13 research organizations from 10 countries are participating in the smart grid JP, with a commitment of at least 640 person-months per year, and others are expected to join in the future (see European research institutions smart grid agenda outlined).

Other JPs launched by the EERA are on geothermal, photovoltaics and wind energy, and others under development include biofuels, carbon capture and storage, concentrated solar power, marine energy, and materials for nuclear.