In a resolution adopted Tuesday the European parliament has called for member states and regional and local authorities to invest as early as possible in local smart grids, by thoroughly considering boosting investments using the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), including financial instruments to leverage private investment.

Given that there is no single solution for all regions, there should be a flexible approach at local and regional level to reduce the barriers to combining measures for energy production, storage, including across borders, and efficiency, and to work with other sectors such as information and communications technology (ICT) and transport.

The resolution, on the local and regional consequences of the development of smart grids, welcomes the paradigm shift in the way energy is produced and consumed, but points out that grid infrastructure, grid management and market regulations are currently geared towards the needs and possibilities of nuclear and fossil-fuel power stations and thus represent a competitive disadvantage for new technologies such as renewable energies.

Under new opportunities for the regional economy, the resolution also calls for ambitious policies and targets for 2030 for energy efficiency and renewable energies as well as for greenhouse gas emissions, in order to give future certainty to investors and interconnected industries, and a more flexible approach in EU regulations and directives on the internal market to reduce barriers to region-specific solutions in terms of energy production, supply, storage and efficiency measures.

Addressing smart energy systems, the resolution calls for the EC and its Smart Grid Task Force to update and expand its existing definition of smart grids to include the smart energy system, and for local and regional authorities to manage energy consumption and load shedding and work on and adopt regional strategies based around a smart energy system. There should also be innovation and greater investment in the ICT sector in order to overcome the main challenges facing smart technologies, including interoperability.

On the impacts on local employment, regions and local authorities are encouraged to consider investing in smart energy systems as a potential source of local green and sustainable jobs, and to consider investments into skills and training for these new jobs.

Regarding data protection and privacy, the Commission is asked to issue further guidance as to the use of personal and non-personal smart grid data in the light of the revised EU legislation on data protection and the agreed rules on the ownership and management of these data by DSOs, providers or other commercial bodies.

The Commission is also called on, within a framework for successful smart energy systems, to take steps to accelerate smart grid deployment, and to reduce the barriers to investment in smart energy systems, particularly by expanding the exemption within the state aid modernizations (SAM) to allow for public support for all elements of regional and local smart energy systems.

Finally the resolution calls for cooperation in the development of smart grids at European, national and regional levels, and for networking and sharing of benefits, knowledge and best practices, and cooperation in terms of cost benefit analyses.