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The concept of “SmartGrids” will fundamentally change traditional electricity networks across Europe. The concept responds to the rising challenges and opportunities, bringing benefits to all users, stakeholders and companies that intend to perform efficiently and effectively. The European Technology Platform (ETP) SmartGrids was set up by the EU in 2005 to create a joint vision for the European networks of 2020 and beyond. The platform includes representatives from industry, transmission and distribution system operators, research bodies and regulators throughout Europe and associated countries such as Switzerland.
In April 2006 the Advisory Council of the Technology Platform for Europe’s Electricity Networks of the Future presented its Vision for SmartGrids. The Vision, for both transmission and distribution networks, is driven by the combined effects of market liberalization, the change in generation, storage and electricity consumer technologies to meet environmental targets and the future uses of electricity.
In 2007 year the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) was published. It describes the areas to be investigated, technical and non-technical. In 2008 and 2009 the Strategic Deployment Document (SDD) was written. It describes the priorities for the deployment of innovation in the electricity networks and the benefits that such innovation will deliver to all stakeholders. It also gives a timeline for deployment. The SDD intends to engage with all stakeholders in the electricity supply chain: governments, policy makers, regulators, network operators, network users – generators, consumers and storage responsible - network equipment manufacturers, system consultants, suppliers of household and industrial appliances and ICT, and other service providers.
These three documents have identified clear objectives and propose an ambitious strategy forward for SmartGrids. For the ETP, Europe’s electricity markets and networks lie at the heart of the European energy system which must evolve to meet the new challenges. Both the future trans-European transmission and also the active distribution grids must provide all consumers with a highly reliable, cost-effective and sustainable power supply, fully exploiting the use of both large centralized generators, a massive number of small distributed power sources and storage devices throughout Europe and the adjacent regions.
In May of 2009 the SmartGrids ETP has been restructured: The Advisory Council – the former lead group initiating the three above mentioned documents - was formally dismissed, as well as working groups that were not active. A new group of industry and key SmartGrids areas related leaders have substituted the Advisory Council. The main goal of the “new SmartGrids ETP” is to take over the lead in the coordination of the future European SmartGrids related processes. This coordination could include interfaces to all involved stakeholders, including the European Commission and the member and associated states.