New technologies are changing the way the energy system works. As the energy system relies more and more on renewables, and more and more energy use is electric (for example because of e-mobility and electric heat pumps for heating) the electricity system becomes more decentralised and interactive.
Flexibility markets help energy networks to monitor energy flows and create market signals to motivate changes in energy supply and demand, integrating smart meters, smart appliances, renewable energy resources and energy efficient resources accordingly. The Commission promotes flexibility markets as they can contribute and help the EU becoming a climate-neutral continent by 2050.
Energy systems and smarter grids
For the energy system to integrate various sources of renewable energy, and ensure that production and consumption of electricity always match, the grids need to become smarter.
This requires a high-level of digitalisation and automated communication and control. It will benefit consumers, as they can get better control over their energy consumption. They can for example opt for clean, locally produced electricity, invest in local cooperatives or install solar panels on their roof. The Commission supports the development of flexibility markets through research and innovation projects, funded by Horizon2020 and organises workshops,bringing together stakeholders and discussing the future of flexibility markets.
- 13 February 2020: 2nd Workshop on flexibility markets of the future and TSO-DSO cooperation
BRIDGE is a European Commission initiative within Horizon Europe that unites research and innovation projects in the areas of smart grids, energy storage, islands and digitalization, to help create a clear overview of cross-cutting issues. Since the launch in 2016, the initiative has helped fund 88 projects for close to € 1 billion. More than 1000 organisations from 40 different countries have been or are involved in the projects.
The aim of BRIDGE is to share knowledge and expertise between projects, as well as to foster a dialogue on innovation and market regulation, primarily through different working groups. These working groups cover the areas
- data management
- citizen and consumer engagement
- business models
Together, the working groups aim to show the impact BRIDGE projects make on the ground, and how that can help speed up the energy transition in the EU. The groups publish reports on their work and they decide on future topics for collaboration during BRIDGE’s general assembly. The outcome of the collaborations in 2020 was presented during the 2021 general assembly in March 2021, along with presentations on finished and new projects and key takeaways of the assembly. The projects brochure give a good overview of the technologies and innovations, project partners and the geographical coverage.
Direct current technologies
Not all renewable energy production will be decentralised in the future. At the same time, the Commission’s scenarios presented in the ‘Clean Planet for All’ Communication (COM/2018/1173), indicate that offshore wind will become increasingly important in the energy mix. That requires electricity to be transported from offshore wind parks to the main consumption centres (industrial sites and cities) onshore, over long distances.
High-voltage direct current (HVDC) cables are an efficient way of transporting electricity over longer distances, but integrating them in the existing electricity network, based on alternative currents, poses technology challenges. To tackle this challenge, there will be soon a new implementation working group on HVDC within the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) that will bring EU countries, but also actors from academia and industry, to work together on various aspects of the HVDC technologies.
Direct current technologies also play an increasing role at local level, as many new sources of electricity production and consumption depend on these technologies, such as solar panels and batteries in electric cars.
Testing new ways of integrating direct current technologies in the distribution grid is a priority for the Commission. It has organised the following workshops, bringing experts, project experiences and policy makers together on this topic.
- 4 February 2020: Workshop on Horizon 2050 power system and the role of HVDC technologies in a highly decentralised RES generation
- EnTEC study - Digitalisation of energy flexibility (March 2022)