EMPIR projects on efficient and digital power grids draw stakeholder interest

Image showing renewable green energy - power substation and wind turbines
Power substation and wind turbines – utilising renewable energy sources

EMPIR projects’ contributions to energy efficiency and smart grid technologies draws considerable, continual attention from the stakeholder community

The projects

Following the EU’s 2020 Energy Strategy, the reduction of carbon emissions and the growth of green industries continue to be cornerstones of European environmental policy. Importantly, policymakers have identified critical areas of improvement for meeting these environmental objectives, with a focus on increasing the energy efficiency in European countries and developing new smart grid technologies.

To bring about improvements in energy efficiency for Europe, experts have studied devices like grid power transformers that deal with large amounts of energy. Here, even small improvements in efficiency have been found to significantly reduce a country’s total electricity consumption. The European Commission has set up legislation including the Eco-design Directive to enforce efficiency requirements for grid device manufacturers – but there is still, today, a lack of measurement infrastructure in place to support these important policies. In response to this need, EMPIR project ‘Loss Measurements on Power Transformers and Reactors’ (17NRM01, TrafoLoss) is developing an accurate loss measurement system for high-voltage power transformers and reactors, where project results have the potential to reduce energy costs and even fuel poverty rates across the region.

The EU is also transitioning towards the implementation of smart electricity grids as another route for meeting their environmental sustainability goals. Unlike traditional power grids, smart grids use renewable energy sources for a two-way flow of power. However, despite its environmental benefits, the increasing use of renewable energy sources in existing power supply systems presents a technical challenge for electrical power industries. EMPIR project, ‘Metrology for the next-generation digital substation instrumentation’ (17IND06, FutureGrid II), is working to solve this challenge by developing new calibration methods to support the use of digital hardware, as required for successful smart grid operation. Project outcomes will underpin the development of future smart grids and digital power substations.

Stakeholder engagement

As a part of the recently-launched European Metrology Network (EMN) for Smart Electricity Grids, the two projects are playing an important role in maintaining the competitiveness of European electricity industries. The projects are additionally helping to meet the growing needs of stakeholder communities across the energy supply chain; from utility companies and transformer manufacturers, to important European standardisation organisations responsible for improving energy measurement traceability, like CEN-CENELEC.

In September 2019, the two projects hosted a joint stakeholder event to present their metrology research on digital and efficient electricity grids. This stakeholder event was held in conjunction with the 10th International Conference on Applied Measurements for Power Systems (AMPS) organised by the IEEE – a leading technical professional organisation. The IEEE’s conference was set up to encourage discussions among academia, industry and utility companies on topics related to smart grids and their measurements. Following its addition to the AMPS conference programme, the projects’ stakeholder workshop attracted over 70 participants who received important updates on research progress; delivered through presentations, poster sessions and lively debates.

The coordinator of EMPIR project ‘TrafoLoss’, Gert Rietveld, comments,

“The workshop was an important milestone where we could share the progress in our two projects with our key stakeholders. There clearly is a real need for a better metrology infrastructure for digital and efficient electricity grids. This need was not only reflected in the high interest in this workshop but also in the early uptake of the project results by our end users”.

Results from both projects have already, at an early stage, attracted the interest of the broad stakeholder community. Apart from the highly successful September workshop, several stakeholders have also engaged with project results by testing out new project-developed methods at their facilities. MIKES VTT, Finland’s centre for metrology, has tested a new accurate voltage channel with actual on-site loss measurements of reactors – carried out at the site of a key project stakeholder, GE Grid Solutions Ltd. VSL and UME, the national measurement institutes of the Netherlands and Turkey, have additionally made use of their new reference set-ups for the calibration of power transformer loss measurement systems. These calibrations have been carried out at a total of 13 different stakeholder sites.

On-going research under the two EMPIR projects continues to support improvements in energy efficiency and smart grid technologies, with EURAMET’s Metrology Network for Smart Electricity Grids taking research collaboration to the next level. Through initiatives such as these, EURAMET is working to provide consistent contributions to a smooth, renewable energy transition for Europe.

This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

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