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Smartgrids

The upgrade and development of energy networks across the European Union is one of the key challenges to securing a sustainable and competitive energy future in the EU.

Today's energy networks are primarily based on large central power stations with one way power flow from the network to the passive consumer.

In the future energy networks need to become "smarter".

Smart energy network will be more resilient and will be able to avoid blackouts. They will allow significant savings in energy with better interconnections and enable an active role for consumers. In addition, Smart energy networks will increase the use of renewable energy resources by better integrating them.

The re-engineering process from current networks to smart energy networks encompasses a complex range of issues covering market design, organizational, regulatory and technical issues. Research activities are needed to develop new technologies which will make transmission and distribution networks stronger and smarter. In particular, this means enriching the networks with information technologies such as sensors, digital meters and a communication network.

To achieve this, a wide-ranging R&D effort is required. The Commission Communication "Investing in the Development of Low Carbon Technologies" estimated that the total public and private investment in R&D for the deployment of future electricity networks needed in Europe over the next 10 years is €2 billion.

Smart energy networks are a priority of the Energy Theme of 7th Framework Programme (FP7). They are also addressed in other thematic areas, most notably in the FP7 ICT Theme.

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