Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Flexibility and retail market options for the distribution grid

Topic identifier: LC-SC3-ES-1-2019
Publication date: 27 October 2017
Focus area: Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future (LC)

Types of action: IA Innovation action
Opening date:
05 September 2018
Deadline: 05 February 2019 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Work Programme Part: Secure, clean and efficient energy
Topic Updates
  • 06 December 2018 19:29

    A FAQ has been published in the "Additional documents" section of this topic.

  • 25 July 2018 00:00

    Please note that the text of this topic has been amended in the update of 25 july 2018

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Today, a large share of variable generation electricity sources are connected to distribution grids that were originally designed to distribute electricity supplied by large centralised power generation plants through the transmission grid. In view of the expected growth of variable electricity production, and a shift towards more electrified heating, cooling and transport sectors, new approaches have to be found for managing electricity distribution grids in order to ensure affordability of energy, security and stability of supply, while avoiding massive investments in infrastructures. Electricity storage, in particular relying on batteries, power to heat/cold, power to X, vehicle to grid and other storage solutions will play a key role in providing services to the grid and improve and reinforce the networks capacities.


Proposals will develop and demonstrate integrated solutions which will allow the distribution grid to function in a secure and stable manner with large shares of variable renewables. A combination of at least two of the following elements will be tested:

  • Flexibility measures and electricity grid services provided by storage of electricity (including batteries and vehicle to grid technologies), power to-X (in particular power to heat), demand response[1] and variable generation enabling additional decarbonisation;
  • Smart grids technologies for an optimum observability and tools for higher automation and control of the grid and distributed energy sources, for increased resilience of the electricity grid and for increased system security, including under extreme climate events;
  • Market mechanisms incentivising flexibility or other market tools should be defined and tested, for mitigating short-term and long-term congestions or other problems in the network (e.g. dynamic network tariffs and solutions to reduce the costs of energy transition, non-frequency ancillary services). Solutions should demonstrate the necessary cooperation with other system operators and particularly TSOs by facilitating the integration of wholesale and retail markets.

Replicability and scalability of solutions is desirable to ensure the maximum impact of the use of the project results.

Proposals should include a task on the analysis of obstacles to innovation under the current context but also under the future market design context and foresee the coordination on policy relevant issues and obstacle to innovation (e.g. regulatory framework, business models, data management, consumer engagement) with similar EU-funded projects through the BRIDGE initiative[2]. An indicative budget share of at least 2% is recommended for the research work associated with these issues and an additional 2% for the coordination effort.

Proposals should build upon the insights and results of projects that have already been selected in this field under H2020 (information can be found on the BRIDGE web site[3]) and demonstrate their innovative character.

Proposals should comply with the requirements stated in the section 'Common requirements' of the introduction to the part on the Smart citizen-centred energy system.

Proposers can apply under the following two sub-topics:

  1. Flexibility and retail market options for the distribution grid
  2. Flexibility and retail market options for the distribution grid: International cooperation with Canada.
    In several international contexts such as the Clean Energy Ministerial, the Mission Innovation initiative launched at COP21, the International Energy Agency Implementing Agreement on Smart Grids (ISGAN), bi-lateral discussions between Canada and the EU identified this topic as being of common interest owing to its potential for decarbonisation. In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation with Canada is required under this topic. The cooperation must be under the form of a Coordination Agreement between the Horizon-2020-funded project with a project with similar scope and sizeable efforts supported by Canadian funding authorities (see also Eligibility and admissibility conditions).

Proposals must clearly indicate to which sub-topic they apply.

TRL will range typically between 5 and 8 (see part G of the General Annexes). Proposers will indicate the estimated levels of TRL at the beginning and at the end of the project.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 6 to 8 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

Projects are expected to develop and demonstrate solutions which contribute to at least 2 of the following impacts:

  • Enhance flexibility of distribution grids which are expected to operate in an overall context of 50% electricity production from renewables in 2030 (EU28 average, see[4]);
  • Contribute to define the conditions of a well-functioning electricity market which creates business case for stakeholders willing to provide such flexibility and allow to sustain the necessary investments (e.g. variable price strategies);
  • Improve the capability to manage future energy loads including electrical vehicles;
  • Improve distribution grid operations which guarantee security of supply and the use of flexibility products while integrating large shares of variable renewables avoiding unnecessary investments by solving congestion.

In the case of sub-topic 2) International cooperation with Canada, the expected impacts of the cooperation to be substantiated in the proposal are to deliver mutual benefits and added value (i.e. in addition of the sum of the results of the two projects).

Proposals are invited to identify and substantiate to which of the above impacts they contribute and include ad-hoc indicators to measure the progress against specific objectives of their choice that could be used to assess the progress during the project life.

[1]Proposers who want to address specifically demand-response should consider topic LC-SC3-EC-3-2020



[4]EU Reference Scenario 2016: Energy, transport and GHG emission trends to 2050

Topic conditions and documents

1. Eligible countries: described in Annex A of the Work Programme.
A number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects. See the information in the Online Manual.


2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in Annex B and Annex C of the Work Programme.


In case of sub-topic 2) International cooperation with Canada, participants in the Horizon 2020 proposal will have to conclude, if successful, a Coordination Agreement with the project supported by Canadian funding authorities. A final draft of this agreement must be provided with the proposal. A guidance document on how to draw up such coordination agreement is provided with the topic documentation.

Proposal page limits and layout: please refer to Part B of the proposal template in the submission system below.


3. Evaluation:

  • Evaluation criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex H of the Work Programme.
  • Submission and evaluation processes are described in the Online Manual.

At least one proposal per sub-topic will be funded, provided it passed all thresholds.

4. Indicative time for evaluation and grant agreements:

Information on the outcome of evaluation (single-stage call): maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

Information on the outcome of evaluation (two-stage call):
For stage 1: maximum 3 months from the deadline for submission.
For stage 2: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

5. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA):

Innovation Action:

Specific provisions and funding rates
Standard proposal template
Standard evaluation form
General MGA - Multi-Beneficiary
Annotated Grant Agreement

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply

Members of consortium are required to conclude a consortium agreement, in principle prior to the signature of the grant agreement.

For sub-topic 2), the respective options of Article 2, Article 41.5 and Article 50.3.1 (i) (j) of the Model Grant Agreement will be applied.

8. Additional documents:

1. Introduction WP 2018-20
10. Secure, clean and efficient energy WP 2018-20
18. Dissemination, Exploitation and Evaluation WP 2018-20

General annexes to the Work Programme 2018-2020

Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme

Guidance: How to draw up your coordination agreement

7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions.

Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

Open access to research data
The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in Annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.

Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.

Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.

Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs. See the Online Manual.

Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.


Additional documents

  • Frequently Asked Questions en

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Type of Action Innovation action [IA]
Topic Flexibility and retail market options for the distribution grid - LC-SC3-ES-1-2019
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