The power sector is reinventing itself - not just in terms of the generation technologies we use, but also regarding processes and business models. Triggered by EU decarbonisation and liberalisation initiatives and directives, a ‘Power System 2.0’ is in the making, enabled by new technologies related to the ICT revolution.

The value of power sector innovation is significant. EURELECTRIC’s 2013 Innovation Action Plan estimates that accelerated innovation in power supply technologies and business models for energy efficiency could be worth 70 billion euros to the EU economy by 2030. Additional benefits are also expected in energy security, lower system costs and consumer convenience. Conversely, slower innovation could put the energy transition at risk and make it much more expensive. Innovation in the power sector is central to achieving Europe’s climate and energy policy aims. Capturing this potential depends on an agile private sector, supported by effective public policy.

For further details on the EURELECTRIC study, please go to the Innovation Policy tab.

EURELECTRIC is committed to working with Europe’s power sector and policymakers to make the energy transition a success, with innovation as a top priority in our strategy. In the following pages, you will find a general overview of innovation policy in Europe, as well as our contribution to the European Commission’s work on innovation. You will also find more information and concrete projects on Innovation in Smart Grids, as well as Innovation for Customers.

The European Commission published its first European Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan in 2007 with the aim “to speed up the development of clean, efficient and low-carbon technologies”. EURELECTRIC has been actively involved in the SET-Plan process and has contributed detailed opinions in several reports :

In 2013, following the SET-Plan review, EURELECTRC published its Innovation Action Plan. This report, conducted on behalf of European electricity companies, explains how the power sector will change in 2030. It describes the biggest upcoming changes, the challenges, opportunities and a view of what the sector will look like. The study shows what the private sector and policymakers can do to enable a successful change. It also develops recommendations for a better EU innovation policy that can help electricity companies manage the move to a cleaner, smarter and less costly energy sector.

EURELECTRIC’s Innovation Action Plan is the result of a joint effort of its members to elaborate a common industry-wide perspective on the power sector’s transition to 2030. In the report, EURELECTRIC proposes five main actions:

  • Adopt a systems approach: Innovation policy must become a tool of energy policy. It should avoid focusing on individual technologies. Instead, it should consider an expanded and integrated perspective encompassing the interconnected impacts on the overall power system.

  • Nurture public-private dynamics: The public and private sectors have to work together to reinvent the power system. Policymakers should harvest the low-hanging fruit: innovation through a competitive, business-friendly and risk-rewarding market framework.

  • Prioritise demonstration and commercialisation: Demonstration and early deployment are indispensable parts of the power sector innovation chain. Further support mechanisms are needed to complement R&D support.

  • Unlock downstream innovation: Policy should move quickly to put in place the enablers of a ‘new downstream’ set of services and offerings: a competitive and fully liberalised market, innovation-friendly regulation and enabling smart grid infrastructure.

  • Create supportive governance for the innovation union: Innovation would benefit greatly from better coordination and governance of both EU-level and Member State support mechanisms, starting with improved joint programming and pooling of resources.

In September 2015, the European Commission took stock of the 2013 SET-Plan in its communication, 'Towards an integrated Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan: Accelerating the European Energy System Transformation'. The new SET-Plan provides the basis for Member States to develop new research and innovation programmes. The communication defines four strategic priorities: renewable technologies, empowering consumers with a smarter energy system, energy efficiency and other low carbon technologies (CCS and nuclear). It also includes 10 actions to achieve these priorities through a more result-oriented approach, a new SET-Plan management (governance) and smart financing. EURELECTRIC has recently expressed its strong support for the new approach taken by the European Commission regarding innovation.

More details about the SET-Plan can be found here:

Other EURELECTRIC contributions in R&D and innovation are as follows:

Several utility companies are already involved in innovation projects. You can find below some examples:

Innovative smart grids must contribute to EU's objectives for the Energy Union and achieve the ultimate goal of making energy more secure, affordable and sustainable. However, without the inclusion of innovation investments in the regulatory frameworks of distribution networks, these objectives will not be reached. As regulated companies, the DSOs are remunerated by national networks regulation, which should incentivise innovation to address smart grids’ broad technical, institutional and societal challenges. More information about this can be found in our Innovation Report. The networks should be optimised to ensure demand load control and energy efficiency. They should also be upgraded to improve cybersecurity and resilience of communications and interconnectivity. Addressing these critical challenges through innovation projects will ensure full deployment of the smart grids as a prerequisite for smart homes.

Innovation is based on best practices and knowledge sharing to pave the way for the implementation and deployment of smart grids. For this reason, EURELECTRIC and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre launched a joint initiative called the “Smart Grids Projects Portal”, aiming to monitor the evolution of the power sector showcasing research, technological development and demonstration results of several smart grid projects in Europe. The portal includes a map of all relevant projects and their main information.

View full map

Several projects tackling innovation in energy networks around Europe are also in different phases of development. A few examples can be seen below.

Projects listed in alphabetical order Country Company involved

UK SP Energy Networks (part of Iberdrola Group), Welsh Government, Cardiff University, Gwynedd Council, Isle of Anglesey County Council
Spain The Basque Energy Agency (EVE) and Iberdrola Distribución Eléctrica

France Enedis (project coordinator), CentraleSupélec, G2 Mobility, MOPeasy, Nexans, Park’N’Plug, Tetragora, Trialog

UK Electricity North West

Spain, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Greece Coordinator of consortium: Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble

Italy, France, Belgium, Portugal, Germany, Austria and Ireland e-distribuzione, cyber GRID, EDP Distribuição, EDSO for Smart Grids, Enedis, Energy Pool,, ESB Networks, Grenoble INP, INESC TEC, innogy, RSE, RTE, RWTH Aachen University, UCD, VITO/EnergyVille

UK SP Energy Networks (part of Iberdrola Group), National Grid, ABB, GE, University of Strathclyde, University of Manchester

Spain, Austria, Italy, France, Sweden, Slovenia, Belgium, Great Britain, Finland, Germany e-distribuzione, Endesa Distribución, Enedis, Vattenfall Distribution, EDSO, Enel Energia, Endesa SA, Vattenfall AB, VERBUND Solutions GmbH, SAP, Siemens, CyberGRID, KiWi Power, CIRCE, University of Ljubljana, City Of Malaga, VaasaEET, Joule Assets

France Enedis (project coordinator), GDF Suez, Schneider, GEG, G-INP, CEA, Atos Worldgrid, RTELEPII, Alstom Grid, Hespul, RAEE

Switzerland Supercomputing Systems AG, BKW Energie AG, ewz, Bacher Energie AG

Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Sweden Enedis, Enel Distribuzione, Iberdrola, CEZ Distribuce, Vattenfall Eldistribution and RWE 27 partners (Utilities, Energy Suppliers, Manufacturers, Research Institutes)

Austria, Italy, Spain, Germany, Ireland, Bulgaria, The Netherlands, Belgium TU Wien – Coordinator 14 partners

Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Spain, Greece Iberdrola (project coordinator), Enedis, Enel, Gas Natural Union Fenosa, RWE, Netzoo, Salzburg AG, HEDNO, AIT, Tecnalia, RSE, ICCS-NTUA

Portugal EDP Distribuição


France Enedis (project coordinator), EDF, Alstom Grid, Saft, Armines, Watteco, RTE, Daïkin, Netseenergy, Socomec

Spain, Greece, Italy, Belgium, UK Coordinator of consortium: ETRA I+D

Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, UK, Denmark, Italy 12 Partners TSOs, research providers, innovation management company

UK SP Energy Networks (part of Iberdrola Group), National Grid (GBSO), ABB, University of Strathclyde, Technical University of Denmark

UK, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Finland, France The University of Nottingham; Adevice; Armines; EDP Labelec; GPTech; INDRA; INESC; K&S; MOZES; Siemens; Universidad de Sevilla; Technische Hochschule Nurnberg

France, Germany, Austria 30 partners spread over 8 countries, Partners for Lyon: SPL Lyon Confluence (European project leader), Métropole de Lyon, Enedis, HESPUL, TOSHIBA France, ENERTECH

France SyDEV – Syndicat de la Vendée (project coordinator), Enedis, Actility, Legrand, Alstom Grid, INEO-GDF Suez, RTE, CNAM of Nantes, with the backing of GDF Provalys

France Led by Enedis and STMicroelectronics, the consortium brings together: Industrialists : Nexans, Sagemcom, Landys & Gyr, Capgemini, Innvovative SMEs: Trialog, LAN, University and research partners: Grenoble INP (in conjunction with LAAS-CNRS of Toulouse), LAN, IT laboratory of the Ecole Polytechnique (LIX)

France Enedis (project coordinator), Lorient Agglomération, Niji, UBS, ALOEN, Région Bretagne, RTE, PEB, UFC Que choisir 56, CSF Morbihan, Delta Dore, Vity Technology

Portugal, Greece, Spain, UK, Germany ( EFACEC, TUB, UNIMAN, ISSC, HEDNO, COMILLAS

Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Poland, United Kingdom, France and Norway The UPGRID Consortium is formed by 19 partners: Iberdrola Distribución Eléctrica (Project Coordinator), EDP Distribuição, Vattenfall Eldistribution, ENERGA-Operator, Tecnalia, Imperial College, Universidad Pontificia Comillas, INESC Porto, ZIV, WITHUS, NOS, Powel, Schneider Electric, General Electric, ATENDE, Politechnika Gdanska, Instytut Energetyki, ITE and EVE.

Netherlands Alliander, Stedin, Essent, ICT Group, ABB, DNV GL, IBM

France Enedis (project coordinator), Schneider Electric, General Electric, RTE, SAFT, MADE, ENEL Green Power,EDF R&D, L2EP, UTT

Innovation in retail is driven by changing customer needs, as well as technology. Customers demand simpler and fairly priced energy services. They seek more comfort through the use of new electrical appliances. They are increasingly opting for distributed energy resources, in particular distributed generation. They are investing in new, smart technology such as heat pumps, home management systems or connected objects. This gives them unprecedented control of their energy use at the touch of a button – or, increasingly, the swipe of a screen. They are keen on exploring options that will allow them to reduce their bills without limiting their comfort.

Customers are asking for more and today, utilities are increasingly able to meet their demands. Technology is able to develop new products that fit customer needs. The globalization of broadband internet access, fixed and mobile, and the progress of big data and data analytics are amongst the key enablers. Retailers have been actively combining their knowledge of customers and the know-how of new technologies in order to develop innovative products and services in various fields, such as new tariff pricing option, distributed generation, energy efficiency, demand side management and storage services. They have been developing these on their own, as well as in partnership with external service providers and start-ups in the field.

Despite considerable effort in these areas, there is still much to be done before new approaches are adopted on a massive scale. This is due to business models, technical and regulatory issues. Regulated prices, legal and regulatory flexibility are key in keeping up with technological developments, customer behavioral changes and access to data.

Innovation field Description Active members
Innovative price structures & demand response Dynamic prices, time of use or contracts for demand response for clients with or without smart meters, aggregation services
Smart homes & smart living Smart heating installation, monitoring & control; smart thermostats
Electric/smart mobility Connection to the charging point, customer advice and monitoring of energy use and mapping of charging points
Personalized information and advice Provision of in-home displays, visualisation of consumption and comparison with peers, energy audits and energy efficiency services
Distributed generation, hybrid supply Installation and commissioning of the distributed generation equipment, solutions for self-consumption as well as feed-in
Storage Battery storage, smart electric thermal storage (SETS) etc.
B2B energy management services Services to commercial and industrial customers, such as energy management, energy audits, direct marketing of renewables etc.
Bundles of services Combination of electricity supply with heating maintenance or with insurance