Strategic Energy Technologies Information System

European Initiative on Smart Cities

Results on Smart Grids

R&D investments in smart grids

An interpretation of the R&D investments broken down per technology as shown in the following needs to take into account the associated uncertainties described in section 'Analysis of uncertainties'. In specific cases these may be higher than the actual differences in the R&D investments between individual technologies, therefore impeding a direct comparison between different sectors.

The investments in R&D related to smart grids seem to be in the order of €273 million with private funds accounting for more than 75% of the total (€212 million). This figure is associated with an elevated uncertainty both with regard to data from industry and to public data1, and most likely comprises grid-related research that goes beyond a narrow definition of 'smart' grids.

Due to the somehow 'fuzzy' boundaries of the 'smart grids' category, it was often not possible to make a substantiated assumption for the share of R&D investments dedicated to that technology. For this reason, the assumptions were made for all grid-connected research investment. Similarly, the IEA R&D statistics used for assessing the national public R&D spendings do not contain a dedicated category for smart grids; instead category IV.2 'Electricity Transmission and Distribution' was used.

Also the EU funds through FP6 that have been estimated to have been €14 million on an annual average over the effective duration of FP6 remain below the estimates made in European Commission (2007c). Parts of the differences are due to the allocation process applied in the present work. Other parts may be explained by the fact that not all R&D included in European Commission (2007c) would necessarily be associated with the group 'smart grids'.

Finally, smart grid related research may attract companies that go beyond the search pattern applied in this report. Besides the component suppliers, electric utilities and other energy companies assessed, companies active in sectors such as information technologies may be active in this area, such as IBM which has initiated the Intelligent Utility Network.

Corporate R&D investments in smart grids largely stem from French-based companies (e.g. Areva, EdF Group) and German companies (e.g. Siemens).

Results smartgrids

Figure 18: Approximate R&D investment in smart grids from industry and public sectors 

Source: Own analysis based on IEA RD&D statistics and official information from some Member States; FP6; EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard

Note: Some EU Member States are not IEA member and do thus not figure in the database; for others no data are available. Note that the IEA category IV.2 'Electricity Transmission and Distribution' comprises more than smart grids only. No annual average estimated for Belgium due to a limited number of data.


1 According to IEA database, public national support to smart grids decreased by almost 50% between 2006 and 2007. This is largely caused by a fall in Italian funds, which had shown very elevated R&D investments on smart grids for the year 2006 compared to data from both the years before and 2007.