GRID4EU – laying the groundwork for tomorrow’s electricity grids

Over the past four years the GRID4EU project has been an important platform to collect and share practical knowledge and develop insights on what is needed to move smart grid developments forward

To mark the conclusion of the European Commission-funded GRID4EU* project a final program was held in Paris last week. The four-year smart grid project brought together a consortium of six major European distribution system operators: ERDF, ENEL, RWE, IBERDROLA, CEZ and VATTENFALL (who together cover more than 50% of the electricity supply in Europe) , manufacturers and research institutes to further develop smart grid technology.

The GRID4EU project included six large-scale, smart grid demonstration networks in six different countries. The overall goal of GRID4EU was to test the potential of smart grid technologies for renewable energy integration, electric vehicle development, medium- and low-voltage grid automation, energy storage, energy efficiency and load reduction through customer participation.

Over the past four years the GRID4EU project has been an important platform to collect and share practical knowledge and develop insights on what is needed to move smart grid developments forward. Compared to previous projects, GRID4EU not only focused on new functionalities, but also on how these can be efficiently deployed to provide value to distribution network operators.

ABB participated in three of the six installations affording us the opportunity to collaborate with major European distribution operators to build and test innovative smart grid solutions in real time. This led to in-depth analysis of the cost benefits, scalability and replicability of new smart grid solutions for large-scale distribution networks.

Outcomes from the collaborations included technical, financial and policy recommendations for smart grids. At ABB, we’re now exploring ways to act on the recommendations, and particularly the opportunity to build on the partnerships we’ve developed. In doing so, we can help meet Europe’s commitment to reach 27 percent renewable energy by 2030.

At last week’s culminating event, the GRID4EU partners shared the results and experiences gained in the six demonstration installations and work packages.

ABB contributed its technology and expertise to the following demonstrations:

Demo 1 focused on grid automation technologies, was led by RWE (Reken, North-Rhine-Westphalia, Germany) and developed an autonomous working automation system for medium-voltage (MV) grids. The project team implemented technology for real-time monitoring of the MV grid, including automatic reconfiguration of the grid to avoid overloads and minimize grid losses without the need of a SCADA system. In addition, an automatic fault detection, isolation and restoration (FDIR) system was developed.

As a result, grid operators across Europe can now evaluate the potential for automation technology on the medium-voltage network to enhance their own operations.

Demo 2 was a collaboration with Vattenfall in Uppsala, Sweden. Its goals were to improve monitoring, communication and information exchange in the low-voltage (LV) network. During the project, more than 100 RTU (remote terminal unit) installations were deployed in secondary substations and linked with advanced metering management technology that already existed in the field.

The result was improved monitoring and visualization of the LV network and reduced duration of outages.

Demo 5 was led by CEZ Distribuce in the Smart Region Vrchlabi, Czech Republic. It had the goal of evaluating automation on the MV and LV grids and islanding. During the project, we installed stateoftheart remote controlled devices, fast communication infrastructure and innovative adaptive protection systems at 10 medium- to low-voltage substations.

The solution enabled a mesh MV grid that can automatically reconfigure and automatically go into island mode.

In conclusion, GRID4EU’s outcomes will support the investment case and policy-making for smart grids in Europe and beyond. This led it to be recognized as the winner of the 2015 ISGAN (International Smart Grid Action Network) Award of Excellence.
* Grid4EU is an acronym for: Large-Scale Demonstration of Advanced Smart Grid Solutions with wide Replication and Scalability Potential for EUROPE.

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About the author

Jochen Kreusel

I lead the Industry Segment Initiative "Smart Grids" in ABB and I am a member of the Steering Committee of the European Technology Platform for Electricity Networks of the Future – short ETP Smart Grids. From 2008 to 2013, I was Chairman of the Power Engineering Society of VDE. Furthermore, I am an honorary professor at the RWTH Aachen and one of the four Vice presidents of T&D Europe, the European Association of the Electricity Transmission and Distribution Equipment and Services Industry, in charge of Energy Policy and chair of T&D Europe’s Energy Policy Working Group.
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