Metrology for Energy - Interview with Gert Rietveld

In times of scarce resources, increasing energy needs and climate change, one of Europe's Grand Challenges is Energy. EURAMET has been active taking different initiatives to address the demands in this field. In 2009 and 2013, EURAMET's European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP) launched a call for projects in this field with an aim to establish the measurement infrastructure necessary to support Europe's sustainable energy goals. Focus was placed on technologies that enable greatly reduced greenhouse gas emissions, while also ensuring the security of Europe's energy supply. The successor programme EMPIR (European Metrology Programme for Innovation and Research) has launched another call for Energy projects in 2016.

A first impact report on the Metrology for Energy 2009 projects was just published. The report outlines the key technical achievements and early impacts of the first group of projects completed under the EMRP Energy theme.

To foster possible solutions for present and upcoming energy metrology challenges the EURAMET Task Group on "Metrology for Energy" was established in 2014. In the following interview the Convenor of this task group, Gert Rietveld (VSL, The Netherlands), provides an insight into this topic.

Why is metrology important for challenges in the energy sector? And where do we find metrology for energy in our daily lives?

It is clear that in our daily lives we strongly rely on energy - we use it for transport, heating our houses, lighting, and powering our PCs, to name just a few examples. However, the limited resources of our carbon-based fuels and the impact they have on the environment via CO2 emissions, forces a transition to a low-carbon supply, to also ensure a safe, affordable and sustainable energy supply for future generations.
I am convinced that metrology can play a key role in supporting this Energy Transition. The work done in recently finished and still on-going EMRP projects provides many examples of these supporting contributions. The introduction of for example LNG, biofuels and hydrogen in our energy mix is supported through measurements of composition, energy content, and flow. For the stable operation of smart electrical grids challenged by an increasing amount of renewable energy sources connected to the grid, metrology ensured the correct operation of new grid monitoring devices. The banning of incandescent lighting is strongly supported by metrology research on the efficacy (efficiency) of new LED lighting sources, clearly helping to develop a fair market place for these products.

EURAMET apparently has already taken measures to meet a series of metrology needs of the energy area. What needs to be done to further support the energy transition?

In my opinion, EURAMET indeed has well addressed the metrology challenges arising with the Energy transition. I see this reflected in the breadth of subjects of joint research projects under the EMRP programme.
However, I also think significant challenges remain, requiring extension of the present work and picking up new challenges in areas with currently limited metrology activity. Following extensive stakeholder consultation, our task group identified these challenges in the EMPIR strategic research agenda where we divide them into four broad themes: energy production and conversion, energy transport and storage, energy use, and cross-cutting subjects such as efficiency. We see that energy efficiency is quickly becoming an important subject on the energy research agenda, among others driven by EU directives on Ecodesign and Building Energy Efficiency. Therefore, I hope to see many of the proposed research topics of the EMPIR 2016 Energy and pre-/co-Normative calls addressing these needs.

Why was the EURAMET task group for energy established and what are the objectives?

EURAMET identified Energy as one of the three grand challenges in metrology. The nature of this grand challenge requires the joint expertise of all technical disciplines within EURAMET in order to tackle the needs of society related to energy metrology. EURAMET decided to establish our task group in order to facilitate the uptake of energy metrology challenges by the EURAMET Technical Committees, and to stimulate the response to the societal needs. The eight members of the task group were selected so that their background and scientific expertise covers the breadth of the societal needs for energy related metrology. Already in the first 1.5 years of the task group, I have seen that this broad background has helped create a clearer picture of the stakeholder needs, and it is hoped that this will enable the uptake of these needs by metrology experts in new proposals for EMPIR joint research projects.