The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) aims to transform the way we produce and use energy in the EU with the goal of achieving EU leadership in the development of technological solutions capable of delivering 2020 and 2050 energy and climate targets.
Smart Grids will play a crucial role in integrating the European electricity system, making it truly reactive and giving the consumer an active role in achieving the SET-Plan. The following is a chronological overview of some of the actions taken to promote Smart Grids technology across the EU, in addition to a more general look at actions taken to achieve broader SET-Plan objectives.
- During the first International Conference on the Integration of Renewable Energy Sources and Distributed Energy Resources, held in December 2004, industrial stakeholders and the research community suggested the creation of a European Technology Platform for the Electricity Networks of the Future (ETP SmartGrids). The European Commission’s Directorate General for Research developed the initial concept and guiding principles of the ETP SG with the support of an existing FP5+6 research cluster representing over 100 electricity network stakeholders.
- In April 2006, the ETP SG presented its Vision and Strategy for Europe´s Electricity Networks of the Future. The Vision, for both transmission and distribution networks, was driven by the combined effects of market liberalisation, the change in generation technologies to meet environmental targets, and the future use of electricity.
- The ETP SG published its Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) in 2007. Since then, these documents have inspired several research and development programmes within the EU and national institutions. The SRA was updated in 2012, and the new SRA 2035 will serve as a key input to Horizon 2020 and other smart grids research, development and demonstration initiatives with the goal of advancing the smart grids-based European energy system.
- In July 2009, the Commission issued a Directive concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity (2009/72/EC), in which it establishes common rules for the generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity with a view to improving and integrating competitive electricity markets in the EU.
- The Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) was launched in July 2009 by a number of European transmission system operators (TSOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with financial support from the European Commission. The aim of the initiative is to support the build-up of sufficient grid infrastructure in Europe to rapidly and efficiently transmit electricity from both decentralised and large-scale renewable energy sources.
- In July 2009, six European transmission system organisations (ATSOI, BALTSO, ETSO, NORDEL, UCTE and UKTSOA) were merged into the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), with the various committees, working groups and task forces transferring their work to the ENTSO-E structure. ENTSO-E aimed to become the focal point for all European, technical, market and policy issues related to TSOs, interfacing with the power system users, EU institutions, regulators and national governments.
- The Smart Grids Task Force (SGTF) was set up by the European Commission at the end of 2009. Since then, the SGTF has reached a consensus on policy and regulatory directions for the deployment of smart grids and has also issued key recommendations for standardisation, consumer data privacy and security.
- In March 2009, the European Commission issued a mandate to the European Standards Organization for smart meter standards (M/490). This was followed in June 2010 by a mandate for electric vehicle standards (M/468), and a smart grids mandate (M/490) in March 2011.
- The European Electricity Grid Initiative (EEGI) was launched in 2010 as one of the European Industrial Initiatives under the SET-Plan. The first EEGI Roadmap 2010-2018 was approved by the European Commission and the Member States in June 2010. An upgraded version was produced within the GRID+ project in 2013 in response to recent EU energy policy evolutions.
- The first SmartGrids ERA-Net call was published on 15 January 2010. The objective of the ERA-NET was to ensure that essential, coordinated research is conducted in preparation for the large-scale integration of smart grids architecture. The second call for proposals opened on 15 January 2011 and the third - on 31 May 2013.
- The European Distribution System Operators’ Association for Smart Grids (EDSO for Smart Grids) was founded in March 2010, bringing together leading European Distribution System Operators to act as an interface between the DSOs and the European institutions, promoting the development of smart grid technology, new market designs and regulation.
- The European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) Joint Programme on Smart Grids was officially launched at the SET-Plan Conference in Madrid in June 2010. The JP aims at addressing one of the most critical areas directly relating to the effective acceleration of smart grid development and deployment - smart grids technology, its application and integration.
- In April 2011, the Commission issued the Communication Smart Grids: from Innovation to Deployment (COM(2011) 202 final), setting policy directions to drive forward the deployment of future European electricity networks.
- The European Commission’s in-house science service the Joint Research Centre (JRC) presented its first complete catalogue of EU smart grid projects - Smart Grid projects in Europe: Lessons learned and current developments - in July 2011. In July 2013, the JRC published the 2012 update of the report, which includes an up-to-date and comprehensive inventory of smart grid and smart metering projects in Europe: it includes 281 smart grid projects and around 90 smart metering pilots and roll-outs from 30 European countries.
- In October 2011, the European Commission issued a Set of Common Functional Requirements of the Smart Meter, which is a joint contribution by DG ENER and DG INFSO towards the Digital Agenda for Europe (Action 73 - Member States to agree common additional functionalities for smart meters).
- GRID+, a support action of the European Electricity Grid Initiative (EEGI), started its work in October 2011. The project aims at designing a set of accompanying activities to ensure that the EEGI passes through the critical 2012-2014 period. The project will continue until October 2014.
- In March 2012, the European Commission published a Recommendation on preparations for the roll-out of smart metering systems (2012/148/EU). With this Recommendation, the Commission aimed to facilitate the take-up of this technology by providing step-by-step guidelines for Member States on how to conduct cost-benefit analysis.
- European Research and Innovation Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn launched the new web version of the JRC’s interactive smart grids communication tool as part of the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) in Dublin, Ireland on July 11, 2012. The interactive tool was developed to increase awareness and understanding of smart grids.
- In September 2012, the JRC-IET signed a letter of intent with the leading Portuguese electricity utility EDP Distribuição to strengthen cooperation on smart grid related topics. The goal is to integrate data and insights from EDP smart grid installations into JRC scientific studies on smart grids.
- The JRC and the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) signed a cooperation arrangement in January 2013 to strengthen scientific and other cooperative activities, with energy topics, including bioenergy and smart grids, earmarked as priority areas.
- The European Commission, with the support of European standardization organizations (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI), organized a high-level conference entitled Smart Grid Standardization Achievements, on 28 January 2013. The objective of the conference is to disseminate the results of the work carried out by CEN, CENELEC and ETSI in the context of the Commission’s smart grid, smart metering and electric vehicle mandates.
General Set-Plan news
- The development of the Integrated Roadmap is one of the key actions in the European Commission's Communication on Energy Technologies and Innovation, COM(2013)253; it reached an important milestone in February, when the first compilation of proposed research and innovation actions to address the challenges of the European energy system was produced. The aim of the Integrated Roadmap is to consolidate the updated technology roadmaps of the SET-Plan and propose research and innovation actions designed to facilitate integration along four axes: the innovation chain, covering from basic research to demonstration and support for market roll-out; the value chain, according to the industrial capacities and innovation potential of the various supply chains; the EU space, achieving replication of solutions in different climate and geographic contexts across Europe; and, the energy system, fulfilling the societal needs in a competitive, secure, efficient, climate-friendly, socially-acceptable and sustainable way.
Under the guidance of the SET Plan Steering Group, over 100 stakeholders participate in this process, as part of the Coordination Group, supporting the Commission (DG ENER, DG RTD and JRC) in drafting the Integrated Roadmap, and the Working Group, tasked to propose research and innovation actions.
The progress in the development of the Integrated Roadmap was discussed during the last Steering Group meeting on February 6th, while the first draft of the Integrated Roadmap will be discussed in the Steering group meeting on the 21st May. Based on the Integrated Roadmap, an Action Plan will be developed together with the Member States for its joint implementation. JRC/SETIS is leading the drafting process of the Integrated Roadmap.
- In December 2013 the JRC published a Report on Innovative Financial Instruments for the Implementation of the SET Plan, First-Of-A-Kind Projects, in which it proposes a set of recommended changes to the existing financial instruments and their utilisation. One of these recommendations is to set up a dedicated facility for providing risk financing for the SET-Plan.
- The European Commission launched its research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 in December 2013. Worth more than EUR 15 billion over the first two years, the funding is intended to boost Europe’s knowledge-driven economy. Also in December, the Commission organized an Energy Information Day to provide essential information on the calls for proposals under Horizon 2020 that will be open in 2014 and 2015.
- In January 2014, the European Commission published its Communication on Blue Energy - Action needed to deliver on the potential of ocean energy in European seas and oceans by 2020 and beyond (COM(2014) 8 final). The Communication aims to facilitate the further development of the renewable ocean energy sector in Europe.
- In January 2014, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs published a report on Energy Economic Developments in Europe, in which it provides analysis of the economic impact of energy developments in the EU and Member States over the past years.
- The JRC/SETIS will publish its Technology Map 2013 in March 2014. The Technology Roadmap is one of the main regular SETIS deliverables and the 2013 update provides a concise overview of the current state of the art and development potential for the various renewable energy technologies.
- The Energy Research Knowledge Centre released its first Thematic Research Summary in February 2014. This TRS is dedicated to Concentrating Solar Power and aims at promoting awareness about the current state of CSP research in Europe.