Smart Grid Laboratories Inventory

A smart electricity grid opens the door to a myriad of new applications aimed at enhancing security of supply, sustainability and market competitiveness. Gathering detailed information about smart grid laboratories activities represents a primary need. In order to obtain a better picture of the ongoing Smart Grid developments, after the successful smart grid project survey initiated in 2011, we recently launched a focused on-line survey addressed to organisations owning or running Smart Grid laboratory facilities. The main objective is to publish aggregated information on a regular basis in order to provide an overview of the current facilities, to highlight trends in research and investments and to identify existing gaps.


The first release of this JRC periodic report systematically gathers and disseminates information on the smart grid laboratories active in Europe and beyond. The underpinning survey has been developed by the JRC with the objective of getting a complete overview of all the smart grid technologies operational at laboratory level in the EU and beyond.

The overall feedback was extremely positive and of the highest quality. 26 organisations completed the survey (and several others are contributing and/or expressed the will to join the already ongoing second inventorying exercise) and the information provided has been analysed in an anonymous and aggregated way.

This report aims on the one hand at complementing and on the other hand at going deeper into the other JRC’s periodic publication - the “Smart Grids Projects Outlook 2014” - where the enormous number of smart grid R&D and demonstration projects developed in Europe are analysed.

Some preliminary conclusions - based upon the data collected so far - are as follows:
  • The main customers of the smart grid labs are industrial companies, followed by utilities, academia and governments.
  • The initial budget for setting up the lab is, on average, around 1 M€, but for large institutions it reaches up to 30 M€. On average, the estimated total annual running cost amounts to 50 k€.
  • Among the 13 categories identified those which take on greater importance (more than 80% of the labs are working on them) are: Grid Management, Storage, Generation & Distributed Energy Resources, Demand Response and Information & Communication Technology. It is also worth noting that almost every lab carries out activities related to different categories.
  • The IEC 61850 (Communication networks and systems in substations) is the mostly used standard (in 6 out of the 13 categories) for: Distribution Automation, Grid Management, Storage, Generation & DER, ICT and Advanced Metering Infrastructure activities. For the other categories, more specific standards are adopted.

Periodic (ideally annual) releases of the report are expected, so trends and evolutions can be early identified in the development process and gaps can be targeted in a proactive way. Benefits for participating organisations are numerous, and will become more significant as the inventory grows. The role of the JRC as a neutral data broker guarantees data accuracy, relevance and independence to all participants, while maintaining all confidentiality needs as required in their research works. In addition, higher visibility to all organisations will be provided by means of advertising/internet campaigns.

Clearly, the future inventorying exercises, planned to rely on wider samples and fine-tuned surveys, can even significantly alter the lessons learned via the first exercise. The Smart Grid Laboratory survey was created and launched by the JRC with three main requirements:

  • Helping to obtain harmonised and consistent information so that data can be meaningfully aggregated.
  • Containing up-to-date information so relevant conclusions could be drawn.
  • Be flexible enough to adapt to different world areas, technologies and standards in use.

The survey has been structured in 3 main sections:

  • General information: includes basic general information regarding the main activities, publications, future expansion plans and collaboration activities.
  • Research activities: The survey has been divided into 13 categories: Distribution Automation, Grid Side Management, Storage, Sustainability, Market, Generation and distributed energy resources (DER), Electromobility, Smart Home/Buildings, Smart Cities, Demand Response, Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), Cybersecurity, and Advance Metering Infrastructure (AMI). The questions in each area of activity were structured covering the following topics: Activities or applications, Technologies, Standards in use and Objectives of the research activity.
  • Infrastructure: laboratory equipment and facilities.
Read more on the survey


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