European electricity networks have suffered underfunding and neglect since the 1980s. Authorities have countered with several industrial initiatives aimed at fostering research and supporting new low-carbon strategies. The European Electricity Grid Initiative (EEGI) is one such scheme, intended to accelerate sector systems innovation rather than technologies. The EU-funded GRID+ (Supporting the development of the European Electricity Grids Initiative (EEGI)) project supported the EEGI and assisted with the EEGI implementation plan. The project also fostered cooperation among Member States and EU projects, monitored progress towards the implementation plan and created linkages with other smart grid initiatives. Initial work involved setting up a roadmap and implementation plan, and working closely with the EU Joint Research Centre's (JRC) review of EU smart grids. Hence, the project surveyed major smart grid initiatives around the world, including energy storage solutions. Researchers compared priorities of the EEGI roadmap against numerous other related European ventures. The stage involved a comprehensive gap analysis so as to match priorities and implementation. The resulting integrated roadmap addresses several solutions to European energy challenges. The list includes active consumers; demand focus; system optimisation; secure and efficient supply; and fusion of social, environmental and economic aspects, including international cooperation. Towards implementation, GRID+ designed a method for assessing the contributions of projects in terms of EEGI goals. Selected projects were encouraged to join a supportive interactive community for knowledge sharing. GRID+ developed, tested and launched an online knowledge sharing platform intended to prevent loss of knowledge at the end of EU projects. The platform integrates results from numerous EU and national projects. Additional tools include effectiveness indices for use in evaluating contribution to the EEGI roadmap, and for evaluation of a demonstration project's potential for up-scaling. The tools allow project self-evaluation in such terms. Lastly, the consortium analysed various international funding options, leading to the proposal of a new EEGI funding model for the EU. The GRID+ project helped increase cooperative electrical network uptake from EU projects, while also protecting intellectual property. The work has helped Europe implement more efficient networks.
Electricity grids, European Electricity Grid Initiative, EEGI, systems innovation, GRID+