Smart grids for a greener Europe


Devise six different though mutually transversal solutions bound by the same common denominator: testing cutting-edge smart grids and integrating renewable resources into electricity distribution. This the result achieved by GRID4EU.

Launched in November 2011, within a call under the Seventh EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, GRID4EU is one of Europe’s most important applied research consortia for smart grids. Its objective is the development of repeatable and scalable grid technologies, aimed to enable a more efficient use of energy and the increased integration of renewable resources into distributed generation, meaning energy production from small-scale plants, such as solar PV or small wind power systems that can be installed on the roofs of homes.

The project - which lasted four years and benefitted from 54 million euros in funding, 25 of which disbursed by the EU – saw the contribution of 27 research centres, universities and industrial partners. The latter included the six leading electricity distribution operators (Distribution System Operators-DSOs) from just as many countries: ENEDIS from France, RWE from Germany, Enel from Italy with e-distribuzioneE-Distribuce from the Czech Republic, Iberdrola from Spain and Vattenfall from Sweden.

The six DSOs led the development of the demonstration field-tests of six different smart grid cutting-edge solutions, which directly involved some 250,000 users. ENEDIS was in charge of the project’s general coordination, while the strictly technical side was entrusted to e-distribuzione.

Our Group applied all its experience in performing its role, ensuring the development of transversal and interoperable solutions. The latter specifically regarded smart monitoring systems for optimising  the integration of renewable sources into the medium and low voltage grid, to collect data that could be used to speed up actions in the event of faults or power quality issues, and to provide customers with specific information on energy consumption.

Overall, GRID4EU has developed 67 technologies and possible applications with real prospects of use in the development plans of the project partners, 33 of which could be a driving force in creating new jobs.

Alongside the technical coordination, in partnership with SiemensCiscoRicerche sul Sistema Energetico (RSE) and Selta, Enel achieved the Italian demonstration organised by e-distribuzione. The project was carried out in the province of Forlì-Cesena, in Emilia Romagna, involving some 35,000 customers. In this area, chosen for the high concentration of green distributed generation, we developed an advanced control system aimed to increase the hosting capacity and to maximise the integration of renewable sources into the medium voltage network.

E-distribuzione built a smart grid that sets a new model for distributed generation distribution networks. In fact, traditional networks were designed to handle mono-directional energy flows (from large plants to users), while in a generation system made up of many manufacturers, the network must be able to handle bi-directional flows and to regulate the voltage, in order to avoid imbalances and overloads.

The smart grid achieved in Italy is able to manage energy flows efficiently, by storing and integrating the production from renewable sources thanks to an innovative storage system equipped with lithium-ion batteries and a 1 MWh installed capacity. The smart grid also uses IT platforms for enhanced monitoring and controlling, using the LTE (long term evolution) communication infrastructure. The system monitors and sends commands to two high/medium voltage primary transformation stations, to over 100 secondary stations, four medium voltage generators and the storage system.

repeatable technology that our Group is ready to export to the various countries in which it operates, to support the development of a low carbon energy market.