A €23m ($24.7m) smart grid project involving 20 industrial partners including five European distribution companies has launched in France.

The Interflex project is coordinated by RWTH Aachen University in Germany and is focused on energy storage, electric vehicles, demand response, islanding and grid automation.

Utilities, manufacturers and research centres are involved in the project, which seeks to apply smart grid technologies at an industrial scale to achieve a high penetration of renewables.

Over the next three years, 20 project partners including distribution companies ČEZ Distribuce, Enedis, E.ON, Enexis, and Avacon will explore new ways of using various forms of flexibilities to optimize the power system on a local scale in the Czech Republic, France, Sweden, The Netherlands and Germany.

RWTH Aachen said: “Today, the vast majority of renewable energy sources are already connected to the distribution grid. Within the next few years, millions of electric vehicle charging stations all over Europe are likely to be deployed on the same grid. For this reason, the distribution grid will need to adapt to rapidly changing energy flows. Seeking to minimize the corresponding grid investments, the distributed system operators will play a major role, exploring the various means of temporarily managing the exchanged energy with the grid within a more local approach.”

Together with ČEZ Distribuce as technical coordinator, Enedis will take the lead in coordinating a number of innovative use cases and the collaboration of distribution system operators in Europe.

In a demonstrator project in Nice in France, Enedis will investigate flexibilities to support the grid, storage systems, and islanding operation.

The German demonstrator project by Avacon will manage “a centralized platform of flexibilities and distributed energy resources to use energy where it is generated, with the aim of relieving the distribution grid”.

A first Swedish demonstrator, run by E.ON and located in Malmö, will investigate the integration of energy carriers, using the heat inertia of buildings as a source of flexibility. The goal is to achieve more optimal and environmentally friendly production in a distributed energy system.