Overview of current programme activities
A European research programme on the integration of RES and DG is entirely justified. Today the Member States are interdependent, both with respect to the issues of climate change and the completion of the internal electricity market. Energy has assumed a new Community dimension and RTD on electricity must do the same.
Both RES and the integration of RES and DG have received significant funding in both the Fourth and Fifth Research Framework Programmes (FP4 and FP5). In FP5 the activities fell within the priority theme ‘Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development (EESD).
Continuation of these efforts in FP6 is in the ‘Sustainable Energy Systems’ work programme as a medium to long term priority.
However it is widely recognised that such EU effort needs to be coupled national research programmes to address issues that are particularly important for the competitiveness of European industry and have major political and social implications. The creation of the European Research Area (ERA) will address issues of fragmentation and duplication of effort, increase critical mass and effectiveness in order to achieve ambitious and challenging targets.
Running activities in FP5
Integration of renewable energies and distributed generation was a Key Action during the FP5 programme. A selection of projects funded under FP5 in this area can be found clicking here. The projects cover a number of technologies and issues such as socio-economics, regulations and Grid management.
A large cluster of projects for distributed energy resources (Integration of RES + DG) is running for four years with a budget of 34 million Euros and has over 100 partner organisations from industry, utilities and research organisations. The cluster aims to coordinate knowledge amongst seven strategic projects funded under FP5, national programmes in this area as well as with projects funded in the US, Japan and other OECD countries.
Strategic importance of Electricity in FP6
Building on new policy initiatives leading to decentralized generation (see box) and the experiences and knowledge generated during the projects in FP5, the new framework programme 6 (FP6) has increased the efforts in the area of future sustainable energy networks based on large share of renewable and distributed generation.
In a rapidly evolving commercial environment, heavily influenced by the liberalisation of the energy markets, substantial progress can be made through better coordination of, and coherence between, Member States’ and European research actions - both within and beyond the European Union. By coordinating know-how and resources efficiently and involving stakeholders in a genuine dialogue, the technical and non-technical barriers to increased use of DG and RES can be broken down more quickly, which will contribute to the establishment of a European Research Area (ERA) in this field.
Medium to long term research aiming at the preparation of the transition to a sustainable energy economy based on hydrogen and electricity as the main interchangeable energy vectors. This will require substantial increases in the adoption of innovative technologies for the management of energy demand in the medium to long term.
It also requires the preparation of the European energy system for the large-scale integration of Distributed Energy Resources (DER). This concept will play a key role in transforming the conventional electricity transmission and distribution grid into an unified and interactive energy service network using common European planning and operation methods and systems.
The two main medium to long term targets in the area of Electricity are:
The Commission has published a compilation of project synopses that covers research and demonstration projects funded in the first half of the Sixth Framework Programme under the Thematic Priority 6 'Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems'.
- Full and effective integration of DG through an interconnected transmission network (“New Unified European Electricity Grid”)
- Triggering the traditional energy and power supply into an interactive (customers/ operators) service network.
>> Download the European distributed energy resources projects [407 Kb]
Selected Projects in PF5
The Cluster of projects for Integration of Renewable Energy Sources and Distributed generation: CLUSTER RES+DG
Covering a wide range of electricity and ICT related topics the project will prepare a new DG structure for power supply in regional, local and island grids. This project investigates basic solutions for technical problems involving DG in distribution networks, demonstrates the best solutions in the laboratory and in the field and assesses the impacts. Research topics include grid stability and control, power quality and safety, socioeconomic issues, planning, trading and operation tools, information, communication and electricity trading, and test facility provision.
Although technical developments are decentralising the electricity infrastructure and services, no initiative exists to consider how to open the internal market to ensure effective participation by DG and RES. This project provides the analytical and organisational foundation for a new regulatory process that can achieve a level playing field between centralised and DG power supply. The institutional changes and economics of supply are being analysed to give a regulatory roadmap towards a Sustainable Electricity system.
This consortium advocates the concept of DG and RES integration by increasing stakeholder awareness of the increased efficiency and sustainability of the technology, removing technical, business, regulatory and cost related barriers to new grid interconnections and raising acceptance of intermittent RES and DG without risk to quality and safety. It will produce recommendations on institutional policy and regulatory frameworks and further RTD.
Interconnection of small modular generation sources to low voltage distribution systems forms a new type of power system that can operate autonomously or as part of the main power grid. Microgrids will study and demonstrate the operation, control, protection, safety and telecommunication infrastructure of such a system and assess its economic and social benefits.
This group will extend the FACTS power electronics concept to systems with high DG penetration to address issues of network stability power quality and reliability. Optimum supply requirements for high DG networks will be specified and prototype DGFACTS equipment produced for operation in ‘stand-alone’ DG networks and DG networks integrated into larger supply operations.
Advanced intelligent ICT technologies can be exploited for cost-effective, fine grained and reliable monitoring, management and control of power networks with a high degree of DG and RES penetration. CRISP is exploring ICT strategies and scenarios and building software tools and architectures for e-markets and intelligent agents for power applications, which will be tested to give practical recommendations for strategic use of intelligent ICT in high DG- networks.
This thematic network has reviewed and assessed existing storage technologies in the context of RES applications. A summary of the state-of-the-art was produced and the requirements for energy storage in various RES were defined. An evaluation of emerging technologies for intermittent RES applications was carried out. A RTD road map was also defined covering requirements in technology improvement and standardisation.
Electricity Transmission and Distribution Projects
This Open market Access and Security Assessment System will provide an open methodology for assessing dynamic network security in real time. This will yield benefits in terms of increasing power flows, reducing outages, improving generating plant operation and more accurately tune protection schemes. A real time simulation is being produced for operator training.
There is a need for lower cost distribution cables and this project will assemble a harmonised pan-European specification for a new medium voltage cable design providing reduced lifetime cost.
Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) is a perfect dielectric medium but a very potent GHG. The target of this project is find a candidate to replace SF6 in electrical equipment of which some 4100 tonnes is installed in the European grid alone.
This project will provide software and hardware tools to assess the benefits and impacts of embedding high voltage direct current (HVDC) links in the largely HVAC European networks. It will also enhance understanding of the factors controlling the design and performance of HVDC cable systems. It is expected that HVDC will show benefits for system optimisation, reduced environmental impact and greater flexibility to expand both the geographical physical network and the trading network.
Electricity Storage Projects
Autonomous power supply systems by RES need energy storage for their operation. In addition to the storage device itself a variety of energy management components are required such as charge controller and charge indication. This project will develop standard test procedures for these components to allow performance comparison of existing and future products.
This project will develop test procedures for benchmarking tests in energy storage systems and other components. The results will enable users to select the most suitable energy storage product for their specific application. The project will provide a framework for defining more detailed technical standards appropriate for a maturing industry.
Compressed air could be a cost effective and efficient medium for long-term storage of electrical energy. The project will address the development of heat storage devices that can enable effective adiabatic compressed air energy storage and associated component technology. The deliverable include fundamental thermophysical and economic results, conceptual designs for key system components and an exploitation plan.
High Temperature Superconductor (HTS) projects
HTS cable and transformers suffer from AC energy loss. This project will investigate the problem and define optimum conductor design, material selection and production techniques. A final optimised assembled conductor will be machine produced and tested in various applications.
Superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES) is a possibility for effective energy storage in electricity networks. This project will use current HTS materials to construct a prototype SMES that will be characterised and tested under pulsed operating conditions.
The prime industrial goal with SMES is to provide storage capacity greater than 2 MJ with guaranteed system efficiency above 85% at reduced cost. This HTS SMES project will develop a simple test setup with a small HTS coil to study the electrical parameters of the system. A demonstrator system will be built capable of 500A/ 400V operation and ready for scale-up to higher voltages.
Plug and play technology for hybrid power supplies will prepare a new generation of AC-coupled PV/ Wind/ Battery/ Diesel systems for use in the global rural electrification market. HYBRIX will produce modular systems with power output up to 30 kW allowing for expansion as demand grows.
This consortium will bring together decisions makers from public administrations and RES industry to explore and stimulate new market initiatives to accelerate the growth of RES. Working with the International Energy Agency (IEA) and bodies from EU, US and other countries emerging RES market, industry and technology scenarios will be evaluated and a road map will be published highlighting the actions needed by public bodies to accelerate the RES market.
This project has analysed methods to integrate large scale wind and PV electricity production in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean. The analysis will help select sites, produce integration plans and address financing issues for the establishment of large wind and PV projects.
New business models will be required in a world characterised by widespread DG. BUSMOD will develop new models taking into account all features of DG and the increased use of ICT. The positive impact of DG on the environment will be used to calculate the value of increased use of DG.