Our core activities

Learn what technical, economic and social issues relating to the power system and market transformation we address. We support policy making and innovation initiatives - including the Energy Union, the Digital Single Market, and the Innovation Union - targeting more secure, competitive and sustainable electricity systems. 

 

Scanning the smart electricity ecosystem

Electricity systems increasingly embedding digital solutions open the door to unprecedented opportunities and challenges. A deeper knowledge of what is happening on the ground is needed to identify patterns and assess what works and what doesn't within the evolving smart grid ecosystem. We have established a track-record of observation activities related to: smart grid projects, smart grid technologies, smart grid laboratories, smart metering infrastructure, Distribution System Operators and many other intelligent electricity system features.

 


Assessing smart grid costs, benefits and impacts

Significant investments need to be mobilised for smart grid to become a cornerstone of the European strategy toward a low-carbon energy future. A fair allocation of costs and benefits among different players is a precondition for reducing uncertainties and incentivise smart grid investments. We have defined and applied a comprehensive smart grid assessment framework centered on a cost-benefit analysis. We applied the framework to smart electricity system projects and smart metering infrastructure, also in the context of the smart grid projects of common interest.

 


Capturing the electricity transition socio-technical interface

In order to capture the complexity of future smart grids, one needs to shift the focus from a component oriented to an interaction oriented view of the electric power system. People are expected to be at the centre of this energy transition. Hence, studying the social dimension triggering the energy system changes becomes increasingly important. In this context, we study the acceptance, involvement and engagement dynamics at the interface between the social and the technical layers of the electricity system.

 

Putting the digital grid interoperability under test

Energy digitalisation is bringing an urgent need for testing the interoperability of smart grid components, applications and solutions. In our laboratory we aim at systematically testing and quantifying the digital grid interoperability through real world implementations. We propose a unified methodological framework for interoperability testing specifications. The establishment of an integrated, geographically distributed laboratory will facilitate the power system modelling, testing and assessment activities beyond the capabilities of each single entity.

 

Evaluating electricity supply security and resilience

Electricity must be supplied whenever and wherever needed to avoid serious hazards to society. Hence, the power system's ability to continuously fulfil its function against adverse situations, is receiving mounting attention. The power system is expected to be resilient to threats with different occurrence/impact and shall be ready to cope with several risks. We study electricity security, resilience and risk preparedness by developing complex socio-techno-economic models and analysing threats surfacing in spheres far beyond the physical one.

 


Studying low-carbon power system integration

The power system is bound to be the place where low-carbon solutions and technologies - ranging from renewable energy generation sources to storage devices and electric vehicles - are interconnected and effectively interact with each other. We develop methods, models and approaches to study and value those interactions and dynamics. More in detail, we are monitoring the challenges for redesigning the European electricity infrastructure and assessing options for the systemic integration of low-carbon solutions in the grids.

 


Assessing the evolving electricity markets schemes

Markets are the instruments meant to support power system operations and developments and distribute electricity-related costs and benefits. Currently, the electricity system stakeholders are striving to keep up with the innovation pace and anticipate the arrangements fit for the perspective electricity delivery solutions and services. We inform the legislators and regulators' actions aimed to steer the electricity sector transition to the citizens’ benefit. To this end, we study solutions and evolutions of the market schemes, at both the retail and wholesale market level.

 


Informing national and regional investment strategies

Community funding programmes support national and regional stakeholders' investments in the power system field. We inform investment planning and selection processes - linked to Connecting Europe Facility, Cohesion Fund and other instruments - in the context of the Projects of Common Interest and the Smart Specialisation. Projects of Common Interest are key energy infrastructure projects helping Member States fulfill energy and climate change policy objectives. Smart Specialisation on Energy aims at boosting innovation, growth and jobs in Europe by helping European regions to better develop their own competitive advantages.

  


Looking at transcontinental and global power grids

Sizable renewable energy potential is concentrated in sites far from the power grid (e.g. offshore sea) and geopolitical dynamics push for a further interconnection of the higher voltage systems. A more flexible, yet robust, transmission grid may be instrumental to take advantage of the resources temporal and spatial complementarity. We assess building blocks and progress for the trans-European electricity grid modernisation and conduct targeted research on technological developments towards higher transfer capacity architectures.