The way we are generating, distributing, and using resources (electricity, water, oil & gas) in Europe has changed dramatically in the new century. Specifically in the energy sector due to new opportunities to generate and store renewable energy and the declining of fossil energy sources together with the introduction of smart energy grids and European deregulation. Embracing the 3 Energy Ds (Decentralization, decarbonisation and digitalisation) requires the participation of new players. Their role as incumbents is changing fast and supports traditional players to evolve towards a more sustainable energy ecosystem. An ICT-driven market place is already a reality for all energy actors and stakeholders that should be guided towards a process of digital transformation. ICT energy systems and applications are at the very core of these changes, being the key enablers for smart energy innovation.
The main goal is to deliver research & innovation initiatives across the entire energy value chain with focus area covering the major challenges faced by its main players and stakeholders, spanning across every segment of the energy market (electric, water, oil & gas), thus driving the digital transformation of the European energy industry.
Activities are driven by the application, in the energy domain, of advanced ICT smart systems and technologies:
- Electric distribution network: advanced smart grid automation together with control and management of distribution networks. Paving the way so as to anticipate the increased use of distributed energy generation and storage. Adaption to Demand-Response requirements.
- Microgrids and Nanogrids: the introduction of distributed energy resources supports the establishment of regional microgrids or local nanogrids, aggregating and largely autonomously controlling their own supply and demand side resources.
- Electric Vehicles: the large scale penetration of electrical and hybrid vehicles requires interaction between the energy infrastructure, the transport infrastructure, the vehicle information systems and the communication network infrastructure. This means collecting, processing and delivering all the needed information.
- Efficient Water Management: oriented to urban and rural areas through the implantation of smart ICT application and services for water utilities and consumers.
The European energy & utilities market industry is facing major challenges towards the Energy and Climate targets for 2020 and beyond to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase the share of renewable energies and improve energy efficiency.
- Deregulation, the green agenda, and ICT technology improvements have changed the utilities rulebook upside down. Smart metering and smart grids are key to research, innovation and as well commercial deployments, playing also a relevant role as for the exploitation of the data sets generated in the process.
- The increasing proportion of electricity from renewable sources means that the ICT energy systems supporting the grid will have to be distributed and adapted to a highly volatile supply (e.g. from wind and solar generators). From the consumption perspective, real-time adaption of fares to the cost of energy consumed will create and drive future consumption patterns. At the same time, private and commercial consumers are being encouraged to efficiently use their resources (electricity and water) and to participate in the generation, distribution and storage of electricity.
Energy sector main findings come hand by hand with ongoing projects, as listed below, aiming at bringing together relevant aspects of future ICT smart energy systems:
- Integration of cutting-edge technologies, solutions and mechanisms in a scalable Cross-Functional Platform connecting energy networks with diverse stakeholders, facilitating optimal and dynamic operation of the Distribution Grid (inteGRIDy).
- Sustainable integration of electric vehicles (EL-Vs) in cities supported by ICT tools for managing the availability of vehicles, charging spots and parking places, and brokering energy to assure proper provision and availability of energy to meet supply needs. (ELVITEN).
- Interoperability network that connects the capacities of the neighbourhood and wide regional Renewable Energy Sources plus Electrical Energy Storages (EES) ecosystems into a collaboration framework that mitigates the requirement of the overall EES capacities thanks to the shared capacities among the participating actors (SHAR-Q).
- Deployment of a distributed ICT infrastructure, combining in-vehicle and cloud based approach collecting and processing data generated by the e-vehicle, and distributing commands for optimizing energy consumption of the different climate systems (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) for reaching a global energy savings of 50% (JOSPEL).