Brussels, Belgium --- (METERING.COM) --- June 1, 2010 - A 9-year European research, development and demonstration (RD&D) program initiated by the electricity transmission and distribution network operators is being proposed to accelerate innovation and the development of Europe’s smart grid.

Under this European Electricity Grid Initiative (EEGI), the smart grid deployment would start progressively over the period from 2010 to 2030.

The EEGI has been prepared 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), in collaboration with the European Commission, the European Regulators Group for Electricity and Gas (ERGEG) and other relevant stakeholders, in order to accelerate innovation and address the most critical electricity system issues for Europe to reach its energy and climate change targets for 2020 and beyond.

The proposed RD&D program is focused on system innovation rather than on technology innovation, and seeks to address the challenge of integrating new technologies under real life working conditions and validating the results. As the network operators are responsible for the secure operation of the electricity system, they believe they need to lead the tests of new solutions through large scale demonstration projects.

The proposed activities are categorized between the transmission and distribution systems, with four “clusters” in each, each with a number of project areas.

For the transmission network the clusters and project areas are:

  • Pan-European grid architecture: Project areas include a toolbox for new network architecture assessment, tools to analyze the pan-European network expansion options, and innovative approaches to improve the public acceptance of overhead lines.
  • Power technologies: Project areas include demonstrations of power technologies for more network flexibility and new architectures, and demonstrations of renewable integration.
  • Network management and control: Project areas include tools for pan-European network observability, for coordinated operations with stability margin evaluation, and for pan-European network reliability assessment, and improved training tools for improved coordination.
  • Market rules: Project areas include tools for pan-European balancing markets, for congestion management, for renewable market integration of active demand, and to study market integration of active demand.

For the distribution network the clusters and project areas are:

  • Smart distribution network: Project areas include monitoring and control of the LV network, automation and control of the MV network, methods and system support, and integrated communication solutions.
  • Smart integration: Project areas include DSO integration of small distributed energy resources (DERs), system integration of medium DERs, integration of storage in network management, and infrastructure to host electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
  • Smart energy management: Project areas include metering infrastructure and smart metering data processing.
  • Smart customers: Project areas include active demand response and energy efficiency from integration with smart homes.

A further set of project areas are also proposed to prepare the TSOs and DSOs to increasingly coordinate their operations, as the smart grid will require them to do. These include increased observability of the electric system for network management and control, the integration of demand side management in TSO operations, ancillary services provided by DSOs, improved defence and restoration plans, and a joint task force on IT system protocols and standards.

The costs of the 9-year program are estimated at €2 billion, with the total costs of the projects to be started over the period 2010-2012 are evaluated at €1 billion. For the transmission system projects the costs are estimated at €560 million, for the distribution system projects €1.2 billion, and for the coordination activities €230 million.
In order not to delay priority projects, a significant support from public sources (EC and member states) is needed in a transition phase to incentivize the participation of network operators until new tariff incentives are implemented. Public support may also need to accelerate particular technology developments or motivate the participation of free market players such as electricity retailers, states the program document.

The EEGI is one of the European Industrial Initiatives under the Strategic Energy Technologies Plan (SET-PLAN) and is expected to be formally endorsed at the SET-PLAN conference later this week.