10 Lessons From Large-Scale Transmission R&D Projects

Modern large-scale energy R&D projects need to encompass multiple actors and stakeholders with diverse organizational cultures and priorities.
Published: Wed 01 Apr 2015

Numerous large-scale energy R&D projects are being carried out across Europe as the region moves towards a single energy market and smart grid and other new technologies are increasingly being incorporated into the system.

10-year R&D roadmap

The European transmission system operators (TSOs) through the regional association ENTSO-E have set out a 10-year R&D roadmap up to the end of 2022. Generally these activities are collaborative involving TSO partners from multiple European countries as well as utilities, academic institutions, vendors and others.

As part of the monitoring process ENTSO-E has undertaken a review of the lessons learnt and the main barriers encountered by TSOs in their R&D activities as well as the role of projects in the development of concrete power grid solutions. These are to be found mainly in two areas:

• Technologies for high voltage direct current integration and testing, dynamic line rating, flexible devices, grid structures, balancing fast winds in storm conditions, virtual power plants, and system services provided by renewable sources

• New training devices for system operation professionals, extra tools for system operation and market simulation which are used in different national dispatching centres.

Among the projects reviewed are PEGASE, which focused on improved state estimation, optimisation and simulation frameworks for Europe’s transmission networks, and TWENTIES, which focused on the barriers to increased shares of wind power. [Engerati-PEGASE and The TWENTIES Project: New Technologies Facilitating the Integration of Wind Power]

R&D lessons learnt

In the process of carrying out R&D projects, many project management issues arise from which the success of the project highly depends.

As a result of the analyses performed, it was possible to extract some key lessons regarding the life cycle of the R&D projects. Resultant recommendations on how to successfully deploy the results from R&D projects – and which are likely to be widely applicable to collaborative projects beyond the European TSO environment – are:

Initial stage

• Define your priorities (participation work packages): what do you wish to achieve with the project? Are these goals feasible and are they aligned with your TSO strategy?

• Get approval from a senior level within the organization

• Good communication between TSOs and their partners is essential – define your message according to your target audience and select the best channel/tool for this. The project objectives and main results must be clearly understood. This helps to involve the team and mobilizes support from other departments.

Development stage

• Validate the intermediate results and invite operating personnel (end users) and, if applicable, manufacturers to participate

• Cost-benefit analyses should be done for new tools requiring significant financial investment prior to deployment. This also applies to data gathering and data management. It may be necessary to make adjustments during this phase to ensure the successful deployment

• The technical personnel/departments of TSOs (as final users of the project results) have to get involved in the early stages of the project in order to smoothly apply and exploit the new methodologies and tools to their daily activities.

Implementation stage

• Main results should be disseminated to all potentially interested parties in order to promote their exploitation and sharing

• Whenever necessary, project staff should be trained on the job

• Beware of some common barriers/challenges, including lack of human resources for in-house deployment of tools, availability of requisite technical expertise and lack of a regulatory framework.

The other overarching lesson which emerged is the importance of a post-review process following the completion of each project. For these projects it appears that post-review processes were insignificant or omitted entirely. A validation and summary report including the positive and negative aspects of each phase should be shared amongst all project participants.

Further reading

ENTSO-E: R&D Application Report 2014