The efficient use of renewable energy has the potential to significantly reduce society’s greenhouse gas emissions and thus mitigate the effects of global warming. However, tapping this potential requires new solutions for energy storage, use and monitoring. Thanks to advances in automation and communication technologies, traditional power systems have been slowly making the transition to a smart grid system. By integrating such sustainable features as smart metres, renewable resources and smart appliances, smart grids save energy, reduce costs and increase reliability and efficiency. “Although much attention has been given to validating specific aspects of smart grids, a holistic and integrated approach for analysing and evaluating such complex systems has not been developed yet,” says Thomas Strasser, a senior scientist at the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology. However, thanks to the work of the EU-funded ERIGrid project, this could soon change. Led by Strasser and his team at AIT, the project has developed an integrated research infrastructure for smart grid systems.
Access to state-of-the-art research
With the aim of supporting the technology development and roll-out of smart grid approaches, solutions and concepts in Europe, ERIGrid brings together 18 leading European research centres and institutions. By pooling their know-how and expertise, the team developed common methods, concepts and procedures for smart grid system validation. These include holistic test descriptions, test chain concepts, co-simulation, hardware-in-the-loop approaches for system-level testing, and power system testing guidelines. “By providing smart grid researchers with a single point of entry for accessing state-of-the-art research infrastructure and services, we are strengthening Europe’s technical leadership in the energy sector,” explains Strasser.
Supporting transnational access user groups
ERIGrid has already supported 73 transnational access user groups. One of these was a group from Cyprus, who performed real-time simulations of a photovoltaic system integrated into the existing Cyprus electrical grid. “The real-time simulation tests are essential to the development of Cyprus’ electrical system, and we wouldn’t have been able to conduct them without ERIGrid,” adds George Georghiou, leader of the CYPRESS transnational access project.
In total, 175 engineers and 20 companies have benefited from ERIGrid’s solutions, including spending over 1 000 days in the project’s laboratories. The project also published over 100 articles and papers and has organised numerous training opportunities, webinars and tutorials. ERIGrid’s work continues via its successor project, ERIGrid 2.0. “By providing virtual access to smart energy system research facilities, ERIGrid 2.0 will advance the work accomplished during the original project towards smart energy systems,” concludes Strasser.
ERIGrid, smart grid, infrastructure, renewable energy, global warming, energy sector