A consortium of European energy companies has been awarded over €20m by the EU to fund research into the deployment of renewable energy.
The EU-SysFlex project will receive the funding under Horizon 2020, the EU’s €80bn research and innovation programme. Ireland’s electricity grid operator, EirGrid, is the overall project co-ordinator, while French electricity group EDF will act as technical co-ordinator.
An Eirgrid statement said the project involves 34 organisations from 15 countries across Europe and has an overall budget of €26m. It will run for four years until 2021.
The aim of the EU-SysFlex project is to identify issues associated with integrating large amounts of renewable energy; provide practical assistance to power system operators across Europe; and create a long-term roadmap to facilitate the large-scale integration of renewable energy.
The project team will also identify improvements to European market design, regulation, operational practices and enhanced system tools.
“One issue is variability – you need to have other resources when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. Another issue is the short-term variability of solar and wind energy – we need more flexibility. Finally, there is the issue of a very different technical interface with the system based on power electronics,” said Vera Silva, the research programme director at Electricité de France (EDF).
“In EU-SysFlex, we are looking at the range of system services that will be needed in the future to provide flexibility and that will keep the system balanced at all times,” Silva explained.
Fintan Slye, Chief Executive of EirGrid, said the funding is an endorsement of the company’s ground-breaking work in renewable energy:
“Our engineers have been working to meet the challenges of operating the electricity system while achieving high renewable electricity targets. Running the power system with the current high levels of renewable energy is unprecedented and presents significant challenges for its real-time operation.”
Renewable energy, mainly wind, accounted for 24.5 per cent of electricity generation across the island of Ireland in 2016. This is already one of the highest in the world and is expected to rise to 40 per cent by 2020 in order to meet Irish and Northern Irish government targets.