ERA-Net awards 23 future energy pilot projects across Europe


Whether it is sector coupling, blockchain, flexibility market integration, or smart EV charging, the energy transition has brought to the fore a whole range of new business models and technologies. Most of them are much-heralded as truly enabling and indispensable technologies. Europe, on a mission to become carbon neutral by mid-century, has awarded €33.3 million to 23 pilot projects.

The funds are allocated through Europe’s, ‘transnational joint programming platform to initiate co-creation and promote energy system innovation’, called ERA-Net. The platform harmonizes national and regional public funding programs in the field of smart grids clean energy and energy resilience.

For this latest call, 57 projects across 18 countries and regions have filed applications. In the end, 23 projects across 16 countries were awarded. In total 243 entities will form consortia to carry out the pilot projects, with 122 of these coming from the business side, rather than from academics.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, will take the lead on a blockchain energy market trial to be carried out in Austria, Ireland, Spain, and Norway. With the help of blockchain technology, the researchers seek to novelize energy market approaches, rules for local electricity prices, and market integration of distributed renewable energy resources. According to ERA-Net, the project is near market maturity; hence the project will be implemented in real-world conditions.

Recently, high-profile business and political events have repeatedly underlined the importance of hydrogen utilization for the energy transition. Swedish and Italian authorities are working together with Siemens to prepare a gas turbine test center for hydrogen use incrementally. The projects foresee the use of excess energy from turbine tests to produce hydrogen. An integrated smart grid will allow utilizing excess heat and electricity on the industrial site. The research will also enable the modification of gas turbines to run on 100% hydrogen in the future, the project description aspires.

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Meanwhile, Scottish, Spanish, and Turkish enterprises and researchers will jointly develop ways to improve virtual power plants (VPP). While existing VPP technology has just begun to get a foothold in some select markets, the team already dreams of VPP+. The idea is to further integrate more sectors and more energy vectors into the platform. The aim is to establish roadmaps for infrastructure planning across the continent.

Meanwhile, in Germany, France, and Austria, governments are working with researchers to find the best solutions to use blockchain for ancillary services. The team will investigate how smart rescheduling of low-voltage grid balancing options, can be used in the event of re-dispatch.

The European Union’s Horizon 2020 program has provided funding for these projects. A full list can be found here. In most cases, the projects will receive support from other entities as well. The Swedish Energy Agency (Energimyndeheten), for example, commented on projects in Sweden or involving Swedish expertise, that they received funding from ERA-Net of SEK92 million (€8.7 million). Additionally, Energimydiheten will give SEK64 million, and the European Commission reportedly made available another SEK28 million for the realization of these projects.

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