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Next generation innovative technologies enabling smart grids, storage and energy system integration with increasing share of renewables: distribution network


Proposals must target technologies, tools and/or services in one of the following areas:

In 2016:

1. Storage: technologies for the storage of energy in the distribution network and their integration and exploitation in the smart grid context, including decentralised storage at user premises or at substation level; this encompasses optimal use of the potential of electric vehicles; particular attention should be put on cost, stability and lifetime;

2. Synergies between energy networks: develop power to heat solutions and strategies (e.g. through the use of water boilers, heat pumps, thermal inertia of buildings, cooling needs, etc.), develop variable renewable power to gas/fuel solutions; technologies for hydrogen production and storage are addressed in the frame of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen JU and are therefore excluded from this call

In 2017:

3. Demand-response: tools and technology validation for demand response forecast, profiling, segmentation, load forecasting, innovative and user-friendly services for customers based on smart metering; inclusion of Virtual Power Plant and microgrid as active balancing assets; associated innovative market and business models; secure data handling;

4. Intelligent electricity distribution grid: tools for the optimisation of the distribution grid, technologies for autonomous and self-healing grids, energy management and control systems, technologies for advanced power electronics, for enhanced observability, e.g. real-time system awareness; secured communications in the smart grid in particular cyber security and big data analytics.

Proposals will clearly indicate which area is targeted.

Proposals will include a predesign of interfaces to energy networks and will demonstrate a good knowledge and compatibility with current regulations, available or emerging standards and interoperability issues applying to their technologies, in particular in connection to ongoing work in the Smart Grid Task Force and its Experts Groups in the field of Standardization (e.g. CEN-CLC-ETSI M/490), regulatory environment for privacy, data protection[[Commission Recommendation of 10 October 2014 on the Data Protection Impact Assessment Template for Smart Grid and Smart Metering Systems (2014/724/EU)]], cyber security, smart grid deployment, infrastructure and industrial policy (

A preliminary analysis of potential business models will be made as well as an analysis of potential needs in the field of standards and regulations so that markets can effectively adopt the developed technologies in 5 to 10 years.

Projects will mature technologies in a range of Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of typically 3 to 6 (please see part G of the General Annexes). Proposals 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 between EUR 2 and 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

In order to ensure the coverage of all areas, for each call, proposals above all thresholds will be ranked in each of the areas opened under the call and the first ranked proposals in each area will be selected until the available budget is exhausted (first, all proposals ranked nb 1, then nb 2, etc.); in case of insufficient budget to select all projects of the same rank to cover the areas, the best scores will prevail; in case of equal scores, standard Horizon 2020 rules will prevail.

In a fast evolving and competitive global landscape, Europe needs to develop and mature the next generation of competitive technologies and services for the electricity distribution grid at medium and low voltage levels, which are clearly going beyond the state of the art and will be ready to integrate the market in five to ten years' time. These technologies and services should enable advanced solutions for demand-response, smart grid, storage and energy system integration while respecting the needed stability and security in the context of an increasing share of variable renewable energy sources in the electricity grid.

Proposals must demonstrate that they are relevant, compatible with the broad EU energy policy context such as Climate-Energy packages and Energy Union. Where appropriate, they should also indicate if and how they will contribute to:

  • ongoing policy developments in the field of the design of the internal electricity market, of the retail market and ongoing discussions on self-consumption,
  • enhanced interconnections between Member States and/or between energy networks.

Proposals must demonstrate contributing to the following overall impacts:

  • The EU power network should be capable of integrating large share of renewables (more than 50% by 2030[[In the GHG40 EU reference scenario 2014 (medium ambition), the share of renewables in electricity is close to 50%, see 'A policy framework for climate an energy in the period 2020 up to 2050 - Impact Assessment' (SWD(2014)16 final)]], in particular variable energy sources, in a stable and secure way.
  • EU based companies will be able to deliver adequate competitive product and services on the market in 5 years-10 years after the end of the project.

Proposals will also demonstrate contributing to the following specific expected impacts for each area:

  1. Develop energy storage systems providing services to the distribution grid and the consumer at affordable costs, deferral of investments in grid reinforcements, validation of business models;
  2. Cost effective conversion of excess electricity, reduce/avoid curtailment, provide services to the grid;
  3. Enable and/or enhance demand response schemes bringing proven and quantified benefits for the grid and the consumers / prosumers; validation of business models;
  4. Improved basis for renewable energy sources hosting capacity, stability and flexibility in the distribution grid operating with large share of variable renewables, reduction of congestion.

Finally, proposals will also include ad-hoc indicators to measure the progress against specific objectives of their choice which could be used to assess the progress during the project life.