Europe’s smart grid research agenda updated to 2035


Ronnie Belmans,
Chairman, European
SmartGrids Platform
Brussels, Belgium — (METERING.COM) — April 3, 2012 – A new strategic research agenda for smart grids setting out the longer term research and innovation activities necessary by 2035 has been released by the European Technology Platform SmartGrids.

The document updates and extends the first strategic research agenda, which was published in 2007 covering the period up to 2020.

Since the initiation of the smart grids revolution, the world has changed, states the document. The large majority of stakeholders in Europe, including governments, are now fully aware that their overall target of 34 percent renewable energy supply by 2020 means the grid must be re-engineered and that this may be done cost optimally with intelligent grid based systems.

The SRA 2035 focuses on the research necessary for the further development of the electricity system for the years 2020 to 2035 and beyond. Issues include going well beyond the 2020 targets of a 20 percent reduction of EU greenhouse gases – a factor of 4 is envisioned by 2050 – and 34 percent renewable generation contribution to final consumption. The research also must consider the increased stress on maintaining the high level of the quality of electricity supply and of the security of the system, and exploiting it together with a much more controllable and intelligent, efficient electricity consumption, and by more energy storage available near the consumption.

The SRA 2035 proposes six research areas, each with one or more research tasks. These are:

  • Smart distribution systems (D). The research task is focused on distribution system power and energy management strategies including storage and demand response.
  • Smart transmission systems (T). Research tasks include long distance power wheeling, HVDC and underground/under water transmission grids of the future, and system technologies and incentives for flexible consumption of large scale consumers.
  • Research common for both research areas D and T (T&D). The research task is focused on network asset management.
  • Smart retail and consumer systems (RC). Research tasks include retail and consumer ICT infrastructures and energy services, consumer interfacing technologies, consumer driven markets, and active consumer programs.
  • Integrated truly sustainable, secure and economic electricity systems (IS). Research tasks include integrated ancillary services, advanced forecasting techniques for operation and supply, architectures and tools for operations, advanced planning, operation and maintenance of electricity systems, information and communication needs for smart grids, and smart materials.
  • Socio-economical and ecosystem smart grids barriers and opportunities (SE). Research tasks include smart grid business and economic models, new market legislation, compatibility of smart grids and smart city evolution, opposition and support to proposed power line projects, and interactions between industry, regulators and NGOs.

“These activities should start NOW to enable a smooth transition from today … towards an optimal smart energy system with flexibility in demand and generation by 2035,” states European SmartGrids Platform chairman Ronnie Belmans, professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Leuven, in the foreword to SRA 2035.