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IEEE: The expertise to make smart grid a reality

European Union


Europe’s smart grid policy is primarily represented by the European Union (EU) which is a loose confederation of 27 European nation states. The EU through its executive branch known as the European Commission (EC) operates a series of cabinet level entities comprised of Commissions, Directorates-General and Agencies that propose policies and legislation enacted into law by the European Parliament which is the legislative branch of the EU, or by the Council of the European Union which is the ministerial representative body of the nation states. These policies and legislation are then enforced by the EC through regulations, directives and decisions that take precedence over national law and are binding on national authorities. The EC also administers non-binding instruments, such as recommendations and opinions which are agreed to on a democratic and voluntary basis. The current state of smart grid efforts in the EU is not homogeneous in nature with some members being more advanced in their efforts than others.

Governmental Energy Organizations and Laws

The EC’s oversight of Smart Grid related activities are somewhat centralized in nature but like many other countries or national alliances delegated to several high level Commissions and Directorate-Generates which include: The Directorate General for Energy (DG Ener) founded in 2010 previously known as the Energy and Transportation which oversees energy related topics through its sub directorates of Energy policy, Energy efficiency, Security of energy supply, Internal energy markets, and Nuclear and Renewable energy.

Other important governmental entities include the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) founded 2009 responsible for creating and maintaining European energy network rules regarding access and operational security for cross border infrastructure and The Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI) founded 2009 which is responsible for marshalling EC officials and private sector subject matter experts into developing and fostering intelligent energy system and eco innovation system projects.

The most current and active governmental player in EC Smart Grid policy is DG Ener’s sub directorate of Security of energy supply which in 2009 established a Smart Grid taskforce composed of EC government officials and industry subject matter experts from groups including the Smart Grids European Technology Platform (Smart Grid ETP), European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSOE) and the European Energy Regulators - CEER & ERGEG (ENGREG)

Modern EU governmental electric power policy was set in motion in September 2007 with the adoption of the Third legislative package which is a law that is composed of a package of measures developed to ensure European citizens a wide range of energy rights including: Consumer choice, fairer prices, and cleaner energy and security of supply. In order to reach those goals the law incorporates provisions to:

  • Separate production and supply from transmission networks
  • Facilitate cross-border trade in energy
  • Facilitate more effective national regulators
  • Promote cross-border collaboration and investment
  • Create greater market transparency on network operation and supply
  • Increase solidarity among the EU countries

Other Notable laws or Actions

Actions of the Smart Grid Taskforce

In 2009 the Smart Grid Taskforce conducted a series of meetings which culminated in the formulation of a European wide Statement of Smart Grid Mission that includes the topics of:

  • Policy and regulatory directions at the European level
  • Implementation of Smart Grids
  • Intelligent Metering Systems
  • Transactive capabilities
  • Central and distributed generation
  • Integration of Consumers participating in energy generation
  • Retail interface on line demand response and new services
  • Formation of Steering Committee and Expert Groups to guide efforts

In March 2010 the Smart Grid Taskforce followed up its work on a mission statement by developing a vision statement which outlines the goals of delivering a resilient, sustainable and competitive energy market for Europe.

Hybrid Governmental/Industrial Organization

Similar to other countries the EC has adopted an approach to foster research and development and implement policy through a series of hybrid governmental/industrial organizations composed of non-profit utilities, utility support organizations and industry representatives . The most notable of these organizations is the Smart Grids European Technology Platform (Smart Grid ETP) which through its work in the European Electricity Grids Initiative (EEGI)SmartGrids ETP Forum and by facilitating international and regional Smart Grid Forums activities including work with the IEEE has developed a Smart Grid roadmap and implementation plan for the EC Smart Grid Taskforce.

Along with its planning advisory duties to the EC the Smart Grid ETP has also initiated multiple projects which are the core activities of current EU Smart Grid efforts.

Smart Grid projects in the EU include: