As part of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, the Institute for Energy and Transport set up an observatory to identify the key Smart Grid activities and initiatives being carried out in Europe and beyond. So far, a successful step has been achieved with respect to mapping and inventorying most of the Smart Grid Projects in Europe.
Many research organizations, key industry stakeholders and academia have designed and built their own smart grid laboratories with the aim to perform research activities that will allow the development of smart grid technologies and standards to facilitate its deployment at production scale.
Although gathering detailed information about labs ongoing activities represents a primary need, in reality several barriers prevent the feasibility of such an important process. Firstly, there’s a continuous development of new technologies and standards that make it difficult to keep track of all different evolutions. Secondly, smart grids cover a wide range of areas in very diverse fields, from renewable energy sources to electric vehicles or ICT and communications, making any efforts to compile all the information quite a challenging experience. Thirdly, smart grids involve a significant number of actors, from energy system providers to telecom carriers, equipment manufacturers, standardization bodies, markets, the car industry, prosumers and consumers, thus, severely increasing the difficulty to acquire an overview of what the current situation is at a given moment. In addition, investments to build smart grid lab facilities are considerable, increasing the dispersion of the lab capabilities and locations; in fact, consortiums and collaboration efforts are quite frequent among lab facilities in order to gain leverage in shared infrastructure and knowledge and reduce the load of having a single facility covering all areas. Finally, different world areas work with different technologies and standards, adding substantial complexity to the effort of gathering information and processing data.
Having in mind all the above reasons the JRC, through the Energy Security Systems and Market Unit, has identified the availability of a repository of smart grid lab facilities and activities as a key target for accurately listing the available technologies and standards that form part of the current smart grid state-of-the-art. It will provide additional value to the existing inventory of smart grid projects in Europe. The combination of the two inventories is necessary in order to get a full picture of the current state-of-the-art and trends in the available technologies and an assessment of which standards are more employed.
As a first step, we had drafted the following questionnaire, which has been sent to appropriate organizations, but it may also be completed voluntarily by other interested institutions. The questions cover a wide range of the smart grid activities and are organized in the most possible effective and straightforward way. An interesting functionality is the possibility of allowing participating organizations to make some/all information accessible to other parties or to the general public. By doing so, organizations might improve their visibility, might enhance collaboration opportunities with other organizations and might benefit from having a global overview of what the other organizations are doing.
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