With the adoption last week by EU member states of the Horizon 2020 research program for the period from 2014 to 2020, and the release of the first call for projects yesterday, more support is in line for smart grids in Europe over the next seven years.

With a budget of almost €79 billion, Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research program yet, and one of the biggest publicly funded worldwide, according to an EC statement – and an almost 30% increase over the current Seventh Framework Program (FP7) which it supersedes.

Of the Horizon 2020 budget, the largest share (€29.7 billion) will support research towards seven broad societal challenges, of which one is secure, clean and efficient energy, which has been allocated €5.9 billion. The others are smart, green and integrated transport – which includes electric vehicles – health and wellbeing, food security, forestry and marine research, climate action, environment and resource efficiency, and inclusive, secure and innovative societies.

In addition, part of the Horizon 2020 budget will go towards funding the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and non-nuclear research carried out by the Joint Research Center (JRC), both of which include smart metering and smart grid activities.

Other areas of support include grants for individual researchers and for small and medium-sized enterprises.

There isn’t a breakdown of how the Horizon 2020 budget will be allocated between individual countries, and funding will be allocated on the basis of competitive calls. Overall, the EC envisages that at least 60% of the overall budget should be related to sustainable development, and that climate-related expenditure should exceed 35% of the budget.

The first call for projects in 2014 and 2015 totals €15 billion, and includes the previously announced €200 million towards the creation of smart cities and €732 million for low carbon energy related projects, including smart grid and energy storage. Electric vehicle development activities have been allocated €159 million.

Specific smart grid activities proposed include the development of ICT tools and solutions for smart grid services, and deployment of a flexible architecture for smart metering systems in which smart grid functionalities may be added in a plug and play way.

Smart city developments will include the deployment of large scale demonstrations with solutions integrating energy, transport and ICT, and the development of standards.

Funding is available to organizations and individuals not only within the EU but also outside, with international cooperation a priority.

Access the Horizon 2020 site HERE.

By Jonathan Spencer Jones