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Innovation & Knowledge Projecting ideas, delivering solutions




Contents Foreword








Vision and priorities


Action plan


Seven programmes: overview


Knowledge management


Programmes: detailed description





Foreword The Elia Group has made a clear choice for innovation: we are determined to rise to the challenge and to be a frontrunner in transforming the electricity system. For decades, electricity has been a safe and predictable business, with the standard laws of economics, economies of scale and new technologies applying in the usual way. The first major change in the power industry – almost a decade in the making – was the introduction of deregulation. New business models, risk profiles and interfaces between new market players were developed and are continuing to be implemented. But even before deregulation and open power markets have been fully established, the power sector is having to grapple with the challenges posed by climate change and to address the issue of fuel independence. Moreover, there has been no time to prepare for the changes and the time-frame within which the necessary modifications to the power system must be made is limited. Today, most stakeholders in the power sector require no convincing of the need to dramatically overhaul the energy mix and reduce energy consumption to cut CO2 emissions and move away from dependency on imported fuels. Power-grid operators form the backbone of the electricity system and have to play a central role in enabling the market players to implement new generation and consumption models; they are the links between the various players involved and therefore have a duty to contribute to ensuring a reliable, sustainable and affordable system.

The Elia Group has made a clear choice for innovation: we are determined to rise to the challenge and to be a frontrunner in transforming the electricity system. Not only because we consider it our corporate responsibility to support European and national energy policies, but also because the shift will create new business opportunities for grid operators and will enable us to attract highly skilled people to challenging jobs. It will make our company stronger and more appealing. As a regulated player, our focus will firmly be on the interests of energy consumers. To bring in the funds needed to support the major investment required in this regard, we will be doing everything we can to support technological and economic developments. The Elia Group is made up of German and Belgian TSOs. The Group is one of the five largest TSOs in Europe and can thus play an important role in the European innovation cycle. Given the boom in renewable energy sources (RES) in Germany and our close links with industrial customers in Belgium, we have the competencies and capacity to pilot new solutions. Our strong network of partners, be they fellow TSOs, DSOs, research institutes, universities, manufacturers or NGOs, enables us to mobilise all the necessary resources to develop, test, demonstrate and implement new power-grid solutions. Finally, we believe that we deserve support from tariff payers in providing the Elia Group with the resources it needs to be able to chart this innovative course. The Elia Group is committed to working in the interests of consumers in particular and society as a whole in a bid to help establish a secure, green and competitive power system.

Hubert Lemmens Chief Innovation Officer Elia Group



SET Plan Energy technology is vital if Europe’s objectives for 2020 and 2050 are to be achieved. Firm action is needed to reduce carbon emissions and halt climate change, and to ensure security of energy supply and the competitiveness of European Companies. The Strategic Energy Technology plan (SET Plan) aims to help achieve European objectives and tackle the challenges facing the sector by boosting research, reducing costs and improving the performance of existing technologies, encouraging their commercial implementation and, in the longer term, supporting the deployment of a new generation of low-carbon technologies. The SET Plan has received strong political support from the European Council and from the European Parliament, both of which have underscored the need for an increased level of investment (both public and private), have confirmed the use of the present financial instruments to implement the plan (i.e. the 7th Framework Programme, the European Economic Recovery Plan, and the NER300) and are fostering the creation and operation of the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) and of the European Industrial Initiatives (EII).

EEGI The European Electricity Grid Initiative (EEGI) was officially launched during the first SET Plan Conference. In May 2010, the EEGI presented its Roadmap 2010-18, a nine-year European research, development and demonstration (RD&D) programme worth €2 billion initiated by electricity transmission and distribution system operators to boost innovation and speed up development of the electricity networks of the future in Europe, i.e. smart grids. A Detailed Implementation Plan 2010-2012 based on this Roadmap 2010-18 was also compiled, covering priority projects to be launched as a matter of urgency, i.e. during the period 2010-2012. Total investment in these priority projects over their lifetime is estimated at €1 billion.

ENTSO-E R&D Plan In 2010, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) released a first version of their Research and Development (R&D) Plan. This plan is a contribution to the dialogue between the European regulatory authorities, the European Commission, the EU Member States and European TSOs, proposing research, development and demonstration projects with concrete anticipated benefits that are in line with EU energy policy targets. The R&D Plan was updated in 2011. The updated version is divided into five clusters: ‘Pan-European grid architecture’, ’Power technology’, ‘Network management and control’, ‘Market rules’, and ‘Enhanced link between transmission and distribution’. (



Context Tackling climate change by cutting CO2 emissions and securing energy supply are among the main challenges facing us in the 21st century; this situation has prompted several changes with regard to electricity generation and consumption: • s  hift from mainly carbon-based energy sources to carbonfree, sustainable, local, reliable and efficient sources; • CO2 capture and storage; • g  reater energy efficiency and demand-side management (DSM) based on new technologies such as smart grids. Electricity-grid operators are the key drivers behind this revolution since they will be facilitating: • the shift towards electricity for transportation and heating; • t he increase in decentralised electricity generation with new active market players such as aggregators and storage operators; • t he increasing distance between generation and consumption centres leading to the need for greater transmission capacity, including capacity outside Europe (e.g. Desertec), and the significant share of RES offering variable generation. This transformation also presents opportunities for European citizens and industries, i.e. industry leadership and more employment. For this to happen, knowledge must be developed leading to demonstration projects to reduce deployment risks for the players involved. The Elia Group is well aware of its role in this changing energy landscape. In recent years, it has increasingly been involved in research and demonstration projects aimed at devising new methods of operating its grids, working together across company borders and testing newly developed solutions in the field. Inspired by the launch of the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan drawn up by the European Commission and the European Electricity Grid Initiative (EEGI), transmission system operators decided to coordinate their research efforts, develop common approaches and share the results of their work. The culmination of this partnership was an initial R&D plan published by ENTSOE in late 2010. This plan has since been upgraded and collaboration with distribution system operators has been shored up.

The Elia Group is well aware of its role in this changing energy landscape. In recent years, it has increasingly been involved in research and demonstration projects aimed at devising new methods of operating its grids, working together across company lines and testing newly developed solutions in the field.



Challenges Challenge 1 Tackle the issue of large flows through the trans-­ European system to deliver an adequate level of system security. The need to cut CO2 emissions in Europe means that renewable energy sources must continue to be developed rapidly. By their very nature, some of these sources such as wind and solar energy fluctuate. Today, most wind power is generated onshore, primarily in Germany, Denmark and Spain. However, substantial amounts of wind power can be generated offshore in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Indeed, many countries have made developing wind generation both onshore and offshore a priority. Whilst one might argue that onshore wind power can be consumed locally (despite this not necessarily being the case today), wind power generated offshore will not be consumed where it is generated. Offshore generation thus entails transmitting electricity over vast distances from the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to consumption centres all over Europe. The situation with solar power is somewhat different in that most photovoltaic panels are installed on roofs. However, in some areas such as southern Europe and North Africa, energy generated by solar-power farms and other technologies mean that electricity needs to be transmitted to consumption centres. This is going to result in large flows of electricity across Europe.

Challenge 2 Move away from a hierarchical structure of the industry: interact with neighbouring TSOs, distribution systems, generators and loads in order to operate the system in a reliable, sustainable and efficient way. The amount of distributed energy resources (DER) has also been increasing in recent years. These new resources comprise mainly renewable energy sources but can also include combined heat and power (CHP) plants, decentralised storage units, flexible and active loads and so forth connected at low and medium voltage, which directly affects DSOs’ operations and planning. Moreover, we are seeing a move away from the centralised generation of previous decades towards a situation where decentralised generation is gaining the upper hand. Such decentralisation will increasingly impact transmission system operation and planning in the coming years. This will result in uncertainties in grid planning and operations due to the operation of some RES units being dependent on weather conditions (e.g. wind and solar power), on the behaviour of new market participants, such as aggregators, providing services to system operators and to other players,

and on the limited and sadly slow process of grid upgrading to meet the needs of new generators in a specific zone. All of this could either threaten system security or, conversely, shore it up by providing flexibility (DSM, smart grids, etc.).

Challenge 3 Balance our systems, within the trans-European system, in order to deliver an adequate level of supply. Balancing the system is becoming ever more complicated due to the increasing proportion of variable RES within the energy mix, such as wind and solar power. The ECF Roadmap 2050 highlighted the fact that there would be a massive need for back-up generation, all the more so if the grid takes time to expand. Today, balancing power (reserve capacity) is provided primarily by fossil-fuel power plants. However, these resources are dwindling: on the one hand, availability diminishes as these ‘conventional’ power plants operate for fewer hours each year due to the increasing share of energy coming from renewable sources, while on the other, investors are becoming increasingly reluctant to build and operate new fossil-fuel power plants. The scarcity of reserve capacity and therefore its price are expected to increase substantially in the coming years. And reserve scarcity will not be the only issue: the system is also likely to be less stable if inertia is not provided by sources other than conventional power plants.

Challenge 4 Support storage creation in order to secure sources of reserve capacity and avoid RES curtailment. The development of demand-side management and the remaining conventional power plants – when running – are unlikely to be able to deal with the balancing challenge for very high levels of RES. Storage systems are needed to provide additional flexibility and avoid RES curtailment. This requires not only new storage technologies but also a new market approach to integrating them into the system. New business models involving various market players must be developed and assessed. One possibility to ensure sufficient balancing resources is that TSOs could participate in the ownership and operation of such storage systems.



Challenge 7 Integrate new and, to some degree, controllable assets into a fleet of ageing static equipment in order to deliver an adequate level of reliability.

Challenge 5 Address uncertainties in an increasingly complex environment: transform the way planning, maintenance and operation are organised. The new dynamic will impact the way the system is operated. More smartness – and therefore more flexibility – will be needed. Devices such as phase-shifting transformers (PSTs) and high-voltage direct current (HVDC) links already provide flexible solutions, and more of these kinds of tools are on the horizon. Supplementing these devices with new monitoring tools such as Dynamic Line Rating will have a huge impact on the way the system is operated and planned. Information that is currently considered static or quasi-static will become dynamic. Hence, the availability of data and information for decision-making as well as for automatic control will become crucial: more data will be available than at present, while the impact of missing data and errors will be greater if not dealt with appropriately. What’s more, the increased complexity brought about by a likely larger number of monitoring tools will require automation and calibration among other things.

Challenge 6 Design an appropriate market at pan-European and national level in order to facilitate not only trading but also the deployment of new technologies. The increasingly dynamic use of the system will impact the marketplace in many different ways. A majority share of RES in the pan-European system, storage, smart grids, and so on will mean adapting the design of the pan-European market place. Given the current state of knowledge, it is still uncertain whether it will be a huge step or incremental changes that will be needed to facilitate electricity trading across Europe: today’s market model may not be appropriate for speeding up the deployment of new technologies.

New equipment and infrastructures will emerge and will need to be put in place to achieve the targets. Even though existing equipment and infrastructures are ageing, they cannot all be replaced at once. TSOs will need to use their old and new equipment concurrently and will need to push each to their limits to complement grid upgrading. This will make devising and implementing replacement and maintenance programmes a real challenge. Real-time monitoring of equipment both for asset-management and system-operation purposes will play a central role in the business. In addition to the features provided by new assets, the flexibility offered by real-time monitoring of capabilities and remote parameterisation must also be identified in existing, non-compliant assets. The possibilities in terms of system-status will be huge and as such incident analyses will play a major role in learning how to operate and configure the system.

Challenge 8 Utilise the vast amount of critical high-quality data to facilitate the decision-making process. The amount of data and information for decision-making is likely to increase exponentially. Communication means will be critical since real-time monitoring of assets, remote control, automation, calibration and so forth will be the key to operating the system. To enable operational staff to cope with the challenges posed by integrating large levels of RES into the electricity system, control centres will require an accurate and up-to-date picture of system behaviour. Accordingly, data exchange will be necessary on a much larger scale, especially for developing and using new IT tools to support the decision-making processes at the control centres in real time. In particular, exchanging accurate data will also be crucial, given the increased importance of system dynamics. Developing complex data platforms and new SCADA functionalities as well as providing advanced training and simulation of operational processes will be one way of achieving this.

Challenge 9 Capture and share existing and new knowledge in order to achieve the goal. Maintaining and sharing existing knowledge is a challenge in itself, but even harder is the task of identifying what knowledge will be key in the future. Developing and capturing this new knowledge in advance will require stronger partnerships with manufacturers, ICT companies, universities and research centres.



The three pillars of the Elia Group’s approach

Expertise Know-how


Innovation Culture



Approach The Elia Group’s approach is based on three pillars: 1. Leverage existing expertise and develop new knowledge. 2. Develop strong partnerships to share complementary skills and competencies. 3. Make the Elia Group more flexible in defining and executing research projects. Innovation & Knowledge Management (IKM) is in charge of spearheading this approach.

Leverage existing expertise and develop new knowledge Against the background of tough times over the past decade, the personnel of the Elia Group have developed sound knowledge based on both their studies and their experience. This knowledge covers the main technical fields of the TSO business, e.g.: • the mass integration of RES; • reliability-based asset management of an ageing system; • innovative grid development with a view to optimising the use of resources; • ancillary services management in an under-developed market; • system operation in a rapidly changing world; • market design in a multi-stakeholder environment. The challenge ahead is a lot greater than any we have faced up to now. New knowledge will need to be created to deal with all the challenges involved. Moreover, both theoretical knowledge and practical experience will have to be developed, which will require a multidisciplinary approach involving different profiles and competencies.

Develop strong partnerships to share complementary skills and competencies Grid operators have a systemic mission: to integrate technology, finance, markets, ecology, generation and consumption, and to strike a perfect balance between these aspects in doing so. This means that grid R&D has to adopt a multidisciplinary approach. Partnerships will play a key role in bringing together all the requisite know-how and fields of knowledge. All the partners can capitalise on their own efforts and leverage the contribution of the other partners, with a view to identifying synergies for the benefit of end-customers. Alongside its partnerships with other TSOs, the Elia Group works in close cooperation with manufacturers, research centres, universities, ICT companies, utility companies and DSOs – an approach that is fostered by the European Electricity Grid Initiative and the EU support programmes.

The Elia Group focuses on innovation, i.e. the creation and use of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies or ideas that are accepted by markets, governments and society. Key to achieving this is support from tariff-payers in providing the Elia Group with the resources it needs to perform its innovation task. The Elia Group also want to share the benefits of this R&D work with other stakeholders under fair conditions.

Make the Elia Group more flexible in defining and executing research projects To translate research ideas into efficient solutions benefiting our customers and end-users, the Elia Group also needs a new framework to define and execute research projects. To this end, the Innovation & Knowledge Management (IKM) business unit was set up in late 2010. Its role in the Elia Group is to organise, to support and to stimulate innovation and knowledge development. This means putting all the processes and systems in place to set up and support the execution of innovation projects. Part of IKM’s role is also to contribute to innovation projects not only by providing management support but also by contributing to the development and testing of new ideas. In this context, close interaction with operational business units avoids an ivory tower effect. A vision and priorities for the Elia Group have been defined bottom-up. The innovation needs have been gathered in the business units in Germany and in Belgium. All the needs have been rated in terms of impact on the mission and in terms of urgency. By doing this, we have secured the commitment of the business units and assessed the usability of the relevant ideas. The management has challenged their views so as to find a trade-off between short-term concerns and long-term visions. The result is a portfolio of programmes and a set of priorities we would like to present below.











Vision and priorities Although all TSOs will have to face the challenges mentioned above in one way or another, the situation in Belgium and eastern Germany (generation and load situation, grid structure, geographic situation, market and regulation, local energy policies, business opportunities) will play an important role for the Elia Group in setting its priorities.

Transmitting electricity from where it is produced The fairly small scale of the Belgian grid and its position in the hub of western Europe mean that it is strongly affected by decisions made by neighbouring markets such as France and Germany. Since its creation in 2001, Elia has dealt with volatile transit flows resulting from the massive amount of wind generation in the north of Germany and nuclear power in France. In Germany, 50Hertz Transmission deals with wind generation that exceeds local consumption. Offshore wind development in the Baltic and the North Sea will further increase the flows through the grids. To accommodate these additional flows, a top priority for the group is to build a transmission superinfrastructure and integrate our grids into it. Ensuring public acceptance of the construction of new overhead lines poses, and will remain, a big challenge in both Belgium and Germany. This, along with encouraging the development and testing of new grid technologies, for facilitating expansion of the grid, is another top priority for the Elia Group. Getting more out of the existing infrastructure is of the utmost importance for integrating yet more RES while maintaining system reliability, taking into account, in Belgium in particular, the ageing of the infrastructure. This will affect both the way in which operations are performed in the control rooms, as well as how our grids are expanded and maintained. Devices can be used closer to their limits and the grid can be operated more flexibly by monitoring and controlling it closer to real time using secure and reliable IP communication and enhanced forecasting methodologies. In this context the system will become increasingly complex to manage. No TSO will be able to face these challenges alone: interdependency will grow – and all the more so in the case of small systems, but more coordination and greater observability will be required to operate such an integrated system.

Balancing the system The rise in generation and load volatility, and the decreasing availability of conventional sources of ancillary services are putting pressure on the balancing market, both in Germany and in Belgium. Four main strategies to relieve this pressure need to be worked on, in a quest for synergies between 50Hertz Transmission and Elia Transmission: •

Move away from the existing control area paradigm by developing cross-border balancing markets and, especially in the case of Belgium, gaining access to a larger control area. This will decrease the global need for balancing services and create greater liquidity in this market. The German experience of cooperation will be beneficial in seeking solutions.

Develop new sources of flexibility, through DSM. Virtual Power Plants, aggregation of small-scale flexibility (load, generation and storage) and smart grids will play a key role in increasing the level of liquidity and competition on the balancing market. In economic terms, the elasticity of demand has to be increased. TSOs will have to develop new specifications and business models. Through its close relationship with multiple customers and new market players, Elia can take the lead in this area.

Facilitate the market integration of storage: business models to make large-scale storage affordable, by pooling different services to be delivered to the market and the TSO.

Optimise the use of balancing services by dynamic reserve management: the annual reservation of reserve power (which is currently used in Belgium) will be replaced by a short-term assessment of requirement and contracting of reserve power. Elia will reap the benefits of 50 Hertz’s experience in this domain.



Seven programmes: overview Having established the vision and priorities, the next step is to take action, launching projects and supporting partners’ research initiatives. Given the complexity of putting this into practice and managing it, the approach is to break down the portfolio of initiatives into programmes and to assign responsibilities on a programme-by-programme basis. A roadmap, covering a five- to ten-year period, and a shorter-term (three-year) implementation plan will need to be developed to this end. A similar approach was adopted by ENTSO-E to draft the R&D roadmap (as part of the EEGI). The mutual understanding that has arisen from defining ENTSO-E R&D clusters is facilitating future collaboration with our fellow TSOs and the search for sources of funding. Each programme is not totally independent of the other programmes. The dividing line between them may appear rather arbitrary but it is also the best compromise we could find between the differing degrees of interaction between the projects and the organisational division of operational responsibilities at Elia and 50Hertz Transmission. It is mainly based on the three main requirements: the future infrastructure, the grid, and balance management. Two programmes (GRIDFUT and RESMAN) are each going to determine the future architecture of the solutions in their respective domains.

To sum up then, seven programmes, each with their own respective owner, will cover all the innovation and knowledge and competency management initiatives: •

 OWERTECH: demonstrate new power technologies that P enhance the capability of the grid, ranging from highperformance conductors to superconductivity, and include real-time monitoring systems; develop novel asset management approaches for integrating new with existing equipment.

 RIDFUT: integrate the effect of new technologies into G LT market simulations to assess future energy and power needs; develop novel grid planning approaches to also address overlay grid development; develop approaches for increasing public acceptance

 PFUT: demonstrate how to operate controllable and O uncontrollable new power technologies; develop training systems for system operators, taking account of the increasing uncertainties and the growing number of control methods; demonstrate new ways for maintaining grids against a background of great uncertainties.

 ESMAN: develop a novel design for the balancing market R to respond to the need for flexibility; demonstrate dynamic reserve management approaches.

 TORAGE: demonstrate how to integrate novel storage S systems with a view to ensuring flexibility for both system operators and market players.

D  ERIG: demonstrate how to integrate decentralised energy resources into the grids with a view to ensuring ­flexibility for both system operators and market players; define new standards for increasing interoperability among all the parties; develop novel grid planning and operation approaches to facilitate the deployment of DER.

K  NOWFUT: develop new techniques for identifying and capturing future knowledge within the Elia Group; experiment with social media approaches for sharing and leveraging knowledge.

The grid of the future will be based on new technologies that have been studied and tested as part of the POWERTECH programme and will be operated using new methods and tools that will be perfected by the OFPUT programme. Balance management will be based on new sources of reserves that will be developed in the form of storage systems, under the STORAGE programme, or deployed using decentralised generation units (connected to the distribution networks) and flexible loads. The sharing of knowledge and competencies to perfect these innovative methods, techniques and tools will be taken care of by the KNOWFUT programme.



Knowledge management Develop a «stronger knowledge management culture in the Group» Most of the knowledge transfer within the Elia Group is currently based on face-to-face dialogue – within teams, within and across disciplines, and from senior to junior staff. While the company was relatively small, this approach was highly effective, allowing rapid and high-quality transfer of operational knowledge. However, the growing size and international reach of the Elia Group, the need for integration of lessons learned from past experiences and the extensive use of young engineers and new hires mean that this approach will not be sustainable in the longer term. It needs to be replaced by a more formal managed approach to knowledge transfer. The Elia Group is on a ‘learning curve’, and knowledge management needs to support this process so that the Group’s management can confidently grow the organisation. Knowledge management will underpin this by ensuring that the company acquires the knowledge it needs in a managed and systematic manner, and that the capability is in place to efficiently enshrine that knowledge in company-wide standards and best practices so as to enhance performance and support growth and ensure that a systematic approach is adopted to organisational learning. This focus on knowledge management is part of the company’s development as it moves away from being the technician organisation of 10 years ago to being the professional organisation of today and foster its aspiration for tomorrow of providing consulting services. Such development means that increased attention needs to be paid to knowledge management. As the company makes the transition from using knowledge for its own operations to providing advice to its customers as a consultant, managing knowledge will become crucial to ensuring the future success of the Group. The main goal is for knowledge management to enable the Elia Group to retain, develop and apply the knowledge it needs to deliver its core objectives, and build up the knowledge it needs to remain a leading European TSO. To achieve this goal, all the member of the Elia Group workforce must perform their duties in a professional way and learn from existing knowledge (experience) and acquire new knowledge (future technology). This knowledge must be embedded in the organisation by sharing and developing knowledge in the Elia Group (as a source of satisfaction and staff development) and anticipating future knowledge requirements.

In 2012, a knowledge management framework will be implemented to structure knowledge management through pilot projects, based on knowledge management good practices within Elia, with global rollout in Elia Group from 2013 onwards. This know­ledge management framework is defined as an interconnected structure of roles and accountabilities, process technologies and governance, which together enable effective knowledge management, in support of operational strategy and business objectives. Knowledge, in this context, is defined as the organisational capability or know-how by which individuals, teams and projects make the most effective decisions, and take the most effective actions, for business delivery. The focus points of knowledge management for the future will be (besides the global rollout of the knowledge management framework as an enabler): •

development and implementation of a technical competency catalogue in the Elia Group to support the development of staff members and the organisation (knowledge mapping and training);

development and implementation of knowledge capture and sharing of tools to translate knowledge into an asset for the Elia Group (ranging from lessons learned to organisational learning and innovation networks);

development of marketable knowledge products based on internal use and flow of knowledge.




Elia Group Innovation Action Plan

Balancing needs

Infrastructure needs

New vision, new architecture

New balancing source

New decentralised resources

New vision, new methods

New technology

New operation







New balancing architecture

Compressed air Batteries

Congestion management DSM, VPP, ANM

Novel LT approach Grid expansion Reliability approach

Innovative overhead lines and technologies

Enhance the exibility of the pan-EU system

New market products

Pumped storage

Demand response Real time market

Overlay grid (e-Highway2050, German studies)

Asset supervision and control

Novel reliability approcaches

Optimal reserve dimensioning

Power to gas

Information exchanges forecasting

Enhance public acceptance

Asset management strategies

Assess impact of new technologies

Dynamic reserve management

Power to heat

Balancing reserves Aggregators Pooling concepts

Novel LT scenario tools

Data and Information management

Design new processes

Electric vehicles

Improved System Adequacy

Needs for knowledge and competencies New processes, methods and tools


Core need Programmes Ongoing or proposal Starting now To be developed in the future

Innovation cycle 1. Observe and stimulate 2. Explore 3. Design and test 4. Demonstrate 5. Deploy

New training tools


Innovation action plan This image illustrates the Elia Group’s R&D action plan. It shows:

the focus placed on the PRIORITIES derived from needs – this focus has three aspects: infrastructure, system balancing and knowledge management;

the seven programmes as a convenient and efficient way of managing all R&D actions – they group and structure the projects and related initiatives in the general R&D portfolio: - ongoing projects or proposals (green) as the concrete core components of the programmes and representing the ACTIONS set out in the plan; ongoing projects are described in the annex; - top-priority actions that have been pinpointed (in red); they show the current focus of new R&D activities that are starting now; - the actions that are to start in the near future (in orange); •

the innovation cycle onto which the actions are mapped: the actions are numbered according to the different phases of the cycle – the actions in the initial phases (observation and exploration) are the longer-term actions (less mature), while projects in the deployment phase are the expected results of R&D activities (most concrete).

You can find more information about the specific projects on




Programmes: detailed description RESMAN: REServe MANagement


Overall objectives

If we are to balance our systems within the trans-European system to deliver an appropriate level of adequacy, then new and competitively priced sources of reserves will be needed. The RESMAN programme aims to provide the vision and architecture that will serve as a basis for integrating multiple system-balancing solutions. This is why RESMAN has interfaces with the STORAGE and DERIG programmes. The aim is to increase our sources of ancillary services by capturing the flexibility from multiple technologies and allowing the involvement of current and new market players.

• Dimension

our reserves optimally Develop new methods and tools to optimally dimension the reserves needed for maintaining system stability. To that end, the vast majority of variable renewable energy resources must be taken into account, as well as the impact of increasing numbers of generation and demand technologies connected via power electronics. Reserves should be dimensioned according to appropriate reliability criteria, and considering the sourcing within and beyond our control area. GCC (Grid Control Cooperation) is a good starting point for the latter.

• Design

and develop new products Develop new products (energy and capacity) to be provided by current and innovative technologies. To that end, it is not only necessary to better capture existing sources of flexibility, but also to investigate new ones: wind and solar farms, large industrial customers, aggregated DER (distributed generation, active demand, EVs), storage systems. These new sources should be able to provide the necessary Ancillary Services (AS) to meet balancing needs.

 anage our reserves efficiently M Define a vision and the corresponding architecture for the future balancing system and balancing market. This new market should enable the involvement of new players, both nationally and across borders. Solutions provided by different innovation projects from other programmes should be able to fit into this market design. Such a market design will need to be complemented by the implementation of processes and the acquisition of tools in order to dynamically manage reserves.



STORAGE: STORAGE technologies for the future grid


Overall objectives

A targeted programme to increase storage is needed so that the grid can deal with a high proportion of renewable energy sources. Storage technologies are currently one promising solution for providing balancing services. Storage systems could provide primary and secondary reserves, relieve local congestion and store excess energy during off-peak hours. Besides delivering balancing services, storage technologies – when embedded in the electricity grid – could have a positive impact on price volatility on the electricity market.

• Incorporate

However, storage technologies are currently very expensive. To allow the deployment of these technologies, it is necessary to develop a clear view of their specific application and then select the appropriate technology. In addition, economic efficiency must be taken into consideration by detecting the appropriate players and financial instruments to optimise social welfare. Support for the further development of an efficient market mechanism includes performing research into every option for the ownership and operation of these storage facilities.

storage technologies to relieve the grid locally in case of high RES feed-in. Favoured storage technologies for such applications are power-to-gas and power-to-heat.

• Support

providing primary and secondary reserve via storage systems which maintain grid stability in the event of the outage of large conventional power plants or high RES feed-in with high power ramps.

• Save

energy during off-peak hours or periods of high RES supply to avoid the provision of power peaks via conventional power plants.

• Continuously

support the development of market mechanisms by investigating all possible options regarding the ownership and operation of storage plants.

• Provide

recommendations to Belgian, German and European policymakers to allow the deployment of the selected storage technologies.



DERIG: Distributed Energy Resources – Integration into the Grid


Overall objectives

To interact with a rising number of distributed energy systems, new planning, monitoring and operational approaches should be developed regarding their integration into the grid and the interface between TSO/DSO (HV/MV level).

For 50Hertz • Develop

new concepts for decreasing congestion on the HV

grid. • Further

Both TSOs – Elia and 50Hertz – share common challenges in terms of integrating DER as efficiently as possible: balancing the system using new decentralised sources of flexibility, managing congestion on HV grids and new ways of exchanging forecasting data. However, interaction with DER can vary widely from one country to the next depending on several factors, including the roles of the market players, the market structure, the generation mix, the type of load, the penetration of renewables and the regulatory framework.

develop pooling concepts for reserve power in terms of technological and contractual aspects. Pooling means aggregating generation units and if hundreds of small units are involved, reserve power solutions are required.

• E xchange

data and improve communication with DSOs. This should enable the TSO to acquire detailed information about DER’s real time generation structure and changes in schedule. The aim is to improve forecasting in terms of local and temporal resolution.

For Elia • Develop

50Hertz is specific in that it has a high share of decentralised renewable energies (41% of installed wind capacity in Germany) and a comparable small load (20% of Germany’s load). To interact with the high volume of decentralised generation resources, 50Hertz uses a cascade system involving the DSOs. Such a cascade system includes access to DER via DSOs. While it is necessary to have improved communication structures and forecasts with detailed data about DER to integrate DER more efficiently, account must still be taken of a higher reserve volume for balancing the system. Elia is specific in that it is the local TSO for the 30-kV to 150-kV grid, representing new challenges in terms of developing grids, managing localised grid congestion, the availability/unavailability of flexible centralised power plants in a less liquid power regulation market, the division between grid operation and energy supply at distribution level, regional regulation which can lead to different incentives for renewable resources, among others.

a methodology and tools for integrating distributed generation in the transmission system at grid development level and operational planning. These should focus on the specific nature of TSO/DSO interaction and should be based on risk-based reliability criteria. Demonstrate strategies to maximise system utilisation and active management of the network including new technologies such as Dynamic Line Rating (DLR).

• Identify,

select or develop tools (e.g. linearised load flow) for local congestion management due to a high concentration of RES in specific areas. Develop a methodology and tools for the supervision and control of DER production for implementing an Active Network Management (ANM) strategy along with DSOs. Demonstrate these solutions to the regional DSOs and regulators.

• Facilitate

the involvement of DER in future balancing markets. Design business models and market mechanisms for the trading of ancillary services provided by DERs or active demand through different participants (suppliers, aggregators, DSOs, prosumer DSOs, BRPs). Integrate demand flexibility into the system through demand-response mechanisms and to demonstrate such integration.

• Make

recommendations to the legal and regulatory bodies on the implementation of the proposed business models and electricity markets.




Motivation To deal with large flows through the trans-European system, more grid infrastructure is needed. This could become a decision that is as tough as the one taken to develop the 380-kV grid when the size of new power plants (nuclear plant of 1,000-1,500 MVA) became too large for the 110/150- and 220-kV grids in place at the time. The reason for building such a electricity highway system goes well beyond managing congestion. It is also about balancing the fluctuations of RES that will be facilitated if these fluctuations can be spread out over a larger geographic area.

Overall objectives • Design

and demonstrate new methods, tools and processes for assessing long-term market scenarios and system adequacy - Build on existing experiences and tools (PSM, SPARK, ANTARES, etc.) to anchor the know-how and lessons learned in the business while building new market models to reflect the future EU market framework - Build on these experiences and more specifically deal with the trade-off between a bottom-up approach and a top-down approach to identify the gaps and find the right approach to fill these gaps (including the challenges involved in collecting data) - Take into account the impact on consumption and generation of technologies such as demand side management (DSM), electric vehicles and storage so as to anticipate this when developing the grid; develop forecasting techniques including correlation effects (wind, solar, DSM, storage, etc.) • Design

and demonstrate new methods, tools and processes for planning the transmission grid and ensuring reliability vis-à-vis the required standards - Build on existing experiences and tools (current deterministic practices and probabilistic approaches such as ASSESS and RIAD) so as to anchor the know-how and lessons learned in the business while improving these techniques - Build on these experiences and more specifically deal with the complexity of probabilistic approaches to establish simple and clear indicators to use for decision-making purposes

- Develop innovative optimisation methods for dealing with the sequential aspect of long-term investment planning - Integrate controllability into the planning approach to take into consideration the interaction with the electricity highway system and distribution smart grids (e.g. how the controllability of HVDC links translates into grid development criteria) - Develop innovative coordinated planning approaches and procedures for constructing a pan-European grid and for actively interacting with local grids (including the challenges involved in collecting data) - Consolidate and further develop know-how about the future dynamics of the electrical system to integrate this into future grid planning criteria - Develop new pan-European grid codes not only for planning and operations (and the market), but also for generation and demand (focusing more strongly on the future in the case of operations, the market, and generation and demand) • Develop

the tools that will facilitate public acceptance of our infrastructure - Design and implement new public acceptance procedures - Investigate potential synergies with other large infrastructures such as gas, water, roads, rivers, canals and railways - Develop incentive schemes (with due consideration for the pros and cons of such an approach) - E xplore technologies that would make our infrastructure more compact (insulated pylons, Gas Insulated Lines, etc.)

• Develop

an approach for linking market design and grid upgrading - Assess how various market designs would affect grid planning - Assess how the capacity market could facilitate grid planning and contribute to system adequacy - Develop new tools for comparing market design options and grid investments



POWERTECH: POWER TECHnologies and practices for the future grid


Overall objectives

Innovative approaches for asset management are needed to integrate new and possibly controllable equipment (e.g. phase- shifting transformers, HVDC links) into our ageing static equipment and deal with incredibly large volumes of critical high-quality data. First, to minimise downtime due to failures and to maximise the availability of our equipment, condition monitoring tools are needed. These tools should be able to perform real-time diagnostic analyses and in some cases have reconfiguration capabilities, while in other cases they will propose potential reconfiguration options to the system operator (decision-helping tools). Second, risk-based asset management approaches, ranging from deterministic approaches to stochastic approaches, should be further developed to optimise maintenance planning and replacement processes. To this end, it is essential to adequately manage and ensure the quality of the information provided by the monitoring systems that is to be used for asset management.

• Innovative

transmission technologies - Develop a long-term roadmap to master new technologies based on the technological needs of the Elia Group - Determine a range of innovative equipment and infrastructures that will be needed in various time-frames to address future grid development and operation, including the impact of technologies such as ITC, HVDC (supergrid, offshore grid) Asset supervision and operation - Install innovative sensors to measure the condition of the equipment - Study the feasibility of an asset management control centre capable of pooling and provision of supervisory control of the state of the equipment - Update the operations and maintenance practices, taking into account the new requirements at DSO level and the variability of RES, to address future grid development and operation (outage planning, enhancement of the flexibility of work schedules due to weather conditions) - Optimise remotely controlled protection systems •

• Asset

management - Implement life cycle optimisation methods and tools -U  se new methodologies and tools for the prioritisation of investments and replacements of ageing infrastructure to maintain grid reliability at an acceptable level - Deploy innovative planning tools and maintenance methods to lower maintenance costs and increase the availability of the equipment • Data

and information management - Set out a methodology for managing the information and data currently available: technical specifications, lifetime characteristics, maintenance and operational practices, data and information coming from measurement, protection and monitoring devices - Data acquisition, update, and cleaning methodologies - Experience feedback methods and knowledge base



OPFUT: OPeration of the FUTure


Overall objectives

To deal with large flows through the trans-European system and to interact with neighbouring TSOs, distribution systems, generators and loads to balance our systems, TSOs need to transform the way they operate if they are to continue providing adequate security of supply. New concepts, methods, tools and processes – which increasingly integrate renewable energy sources – will be required.

• Demonstrate

To that end, TSOs will have to cope with instability in the system by upgrading the techniques they use to assess voltage and transient stability. In addition, it will be necessary to bolster international cooperation (CORESO, TSC etc.) to make the existing system smarter. The new methods must incorporate the controllability (load and generation) of technologies (e.g. phase-shifting transformers, high-voltage direct-current connections, smart grids, virtual power plants). The capability of the system, as measured in real time by novel monitoring devices, must be integrated into operations. In a rapidly changing environment, new processes and tools should enable operational staff to operate the electricity system on the basis of reliable data, pre-defined corrective actions, effective cooperation, clear and fast decision-making processes and well-organised training courses. Finally, variability will have to be integrated into the marketplace and some of the factors mentioned above will have to be incorporated in the market algorithm to deliver the appropriate level of services to customers while firmly allocating sufficient capacity.

and introduce new technologies, processes, tools and data management to improve system observability and operability (data exchange from loads and production units, forecasting techniques, optimising the operation of overhead lines and substations based on real-time conditions, cockpit functionalities in order to improve decision-making processes)

• Design

and demonstrate innovative procedures to route flows through the European grid (how to manage unexpected loop-flows; integration of more RES via optimal coordination)

• Design

and demonstrate new methods and tools for assessing the reliability of the European grid - Probabilistic approach to risk assessment - Voltage assessment and reactive control - System stability assessment • Design

and demonstrate new operational processes accordingly - Dynamic outage planning, taking into account the volatility of RES - Enhance cross-border cooperation (through new solutions) - Emergency plans, including reliability and security against external threats (e.g. cyber security, etc.) Integrate new technologies and demonstrate how to deal with interactions among them - Flexibility and reserve management (new products for reserves) - Developments in the operation of very-high-voltage grids and smart grids •

• Establish

a training centre to enable joint training (e.g. day-to-day operations, international cooperation and coordination, crisis situations, grid restoration)



KNOWFUT: KNOWledge of the FUTure


Overall objectives

To capture and share new and existing knowledge, it will be critical to support ongoing knowledge management initiatives and to deploy best practices throughout the Elia Group. The different projects – which will be part of the programmes presented here – are a unique opportunity not only for capturing knowledge developed by partners but also for developing junior people with the help of world-class experts.

• Detect

The KNOWFUT programme is a link between all the other programmes, providing an opportunity to channel knowledge from the different R&D projects into processes in order to embed this knowledge within the group. The processes and methodologies to structure this knowledge, as well as the knowledge itself, are to be offered to both internal and external stakeholders. Each programme is required to cover aspects of the following topics: • assets & technology; • grid development; • energy management and markets; • legal and regulatory issues; • operations and planning. These five topics cut across the different programmes and constitute content for the technical competencies to be maintained and developed within the Elia Group. The purpose of KNOWFUT is to facilitate interactions among all projects while promoting knowledge capture and sharing both inside and outside the Elia Group.

the knowledge that is critical to the Elia Group for the

future • Organise

knowledge and ensure the knowledge is captured and shared via appropriate processes, methods and tools before, during and after the projects: - Support the mapping of R&D activities and forge links to individual technical competencies to be built into the Elia Group so as to have the right profiles and the necessary training - Define and structure knowledge processes for learning by implementing peer assists, post-action reviews and lessons learned from R&D projects - Support the dynamic exchange and building of knowledge by a community of practice (CoP) in terms of new technologies and practices • Support

knowledge capture and sharing within the network of research centres and universities; to that end, it will make tangible the link between Elia Group’s projects, R&D priorities and the universities in their educational objectives so as to attract the best profiles

• Support

the selection of projects and partners to achieve our knowledge development objectives while building new partnerships with relevant stakeholders

• Support

the structure and package of the knowledge to be offered within the Group and outside the Group


Glossary AS

Ancillary Services


Active Network Management


Balancing Responsible Party


Combined Heat and Power


Coordination of Electricity System Operators


Distributed Energy Resources


Dynamic Line Rating


Demand Side Management


Distribution System Operator


European Commission


European Electricity Grid Initiative


European Energy Research Alliance


European Industry Initiative


Electricity Highway System


European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity


Electric Vehicle


Flexible Alternating Current Transmission Systems


Grid Control Cooperation




High-Voltage Direct Current


Information and Communication Technologies


Innovation and Knowledge Management


Information Technology


Knowledge Management




Non-Governmental Organisation


Phase-Shifting Transformer


Research and Development


Research, Development and Demonstration


Renewable Energy Sources


Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition

SET Plan

Strategic Energy Technology Plan


Transmission System Operator Security Cooperation


Transmission System Operator



Elia System Operator S.A.

50Hertz Transmission GmbH

Boulevard de l’Empereur 20 1000 Brussels Belgium

Eichenstraße 3A 12435 Berlin Deutschland

Design by Editeur responsable : Catherine Vandenborre, Boulevard de l’Empereur 20, 1000 Bruxelles