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In times of scarce resources, increasing energy needs and climate change, one of Europe's Grand Challenges is Energy.
In 2009 and 2013, EURAMET's European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP) launched calls for projects in this area 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 projects are broad in scope, covering topics such as metrology for solid state lighting, energy harvesting and smart electrical grids. The 2009 call projects, which started in 2010, have now come to an end and the 2013 call projects will end in 2017.
The first call supported nine EMRP projects involving 39 research groups from European National Metrology Institutes and Designated Institutes alongside researchers from academia and public research organisations. The project researchers also worked with the energy industry - with energy generators and distributors, large scale users and key process equipment and instrumentation suppliers - to ensure the new measurement capabilities met their needs and to transfer the new knowledge and skills generated to end users.
Research was conducted to develop the measurement infrastructure needed to support the introduction of sustainable energy into Europe's energy mix, accelerate uptake of low carbon technologies and improve the efficiency and security of the existing energy infrastructure.
The increased use of energy from renewable sources is a key feature of European energy policy. The Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC) sets a target of at least 20 % of Europe's total energy needs fulfilled with renewables by 2020 including at least 10 % of transport fuels from renewable sources by the same date. In addition, non-conventional lower carbon energy sources, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), not only play a role in lowering our carbon footprint but also play an important part in securing Europe's energy supply.
Three EMRP projects focused on the development of measurement infrastructures required for biogas, liquid biofuels and LNG to ensure they can be traded fairly and efficiently and can be incorporated safely into existing distribution networks and infrastructures:
Low carbon technologies
Reducing carbon emissions also requires increased use of low carbon technologies. Harvesting energy from waste heat, movement and vibration can provide energy at the point of use for a wide range of portable electronic devices, decreasing the demand for energy from the grid and batteries. It also offers opportunities for increasing the efficiency of vehicles via recycling energy lost to heat. One-fifth of global electricity consumption is for lighting and a considerable reduction in energy consumption could be obtained by replacing conventional lighting products with low energy technologies such as LEDs.
Two EMRP projects focused on energy harvesting technologies and energy efficient lighting:
Modernising the electricity infrastructure
Upgrades to the existing electricity generation and transmission infrastructure are required to ensure a reliable electricity supply and contribute to carbon reductions. Europe’s energy mix will include fossil fuel powered plants, nuclear power and renewables. Current fossil fuel powered energy plants will remain in service for many years and will be upgraded not only to extend their lifetimes but also to improve their efficiency and reduce their carbon emissions. Next generation nuclear power plants are planned based on new reactor designs and fuels.
Increasing levels of electricity generated from renewables such as solar and wind need to be incorporated into Europe’s electricity grids. This brings the dual challenge of managing intermittent electricity inputs and geographical remoteness. Solutions include long distance high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission and ‘smart grids’ that can accommodate variable and intermittent incoming power.
Four EMRP projects focused on the measurements required to help improve the efficiency of existing power plants, support the development of next generation nuclear plants and HVDC connections, and manage smart grids:
- Metrology for improved power plant efficiency
- Metrology for smart electrical grids
- Metrology for high voltage direct current
- Metrology for new generation nuclear power plants
All EMRP projects engage widely with the user communities who will benefit from the research. For the Energy EMRP projects, this included energy generators and distributors, large scale users and key process equipment and instrumentation suppliers as well as the relevant technical committees and working groups in the standardisation community.
The projects and their related projects have put, and are putting, in place the metrology infrastructure for a sustainable energy future. The implementation and adoption of these new measurement capabilities takes place over a number of years typically starting with the instrumentation sector and other early adopters in the energy sector and the development of new or revised conformity standards. The instrumentation sector plays a key role in adopting new measurement capabilities (new measurement technologies, devices, methods, techniques, reduced uncertainties etc.) and transferring them into end users in the wider industrial community and public agencies.
These projects are still in progress – see Call 2013 - Energy & Environment for further information.
Energy impact report
This report outlines the key technical achievements and early impacts of the first group of projects completed under the EMRP Energy theme. The report explores the new measurement capabilities developed as a result of the collaborations within the Energy projects.