The total budget for the Twenties project, which will last for three years, is about EUR58 million. Twenties ranks as the largest energy project the EU has ever financed in its framework programme for research and technological development.
Twenties - a somewhat tortured acronym for "transmission system operation with large penetration of wind and other renewable electricity sources in networks by means of innovative tools and integrated energy solutions"
- involves six specific demonstration projects on integrating wind. Project participants will contribute the remaining EUR26 million of the Twenties budget not covered by EU financing.
Twenties participants include the ten EU member states of Spain, Portugal, Ireland, the UK, France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Italy, along with non-EU member Norway and a total of 26 companies and research institutes operating in the electricity sector in these countries.
Project participants say they hope to make a concrete contribution to Europe's 2020 energy targets of a 20% cut in carbon dioxide emissions, a 20% improvement in energy efficiency and 20% of energy demand covered by renewable energy sources.
The project is being co-ordinated by Spanish transmission system operator Red Electrica de Espana (REE).
"Some of the technologies used in the demonstration projects are already available commercially, but are not heavily introduced into electricity systems," explains Jose Luis Mata Vigil-Escalera, head of regulation and studies at REE.
"We wanted to test the impact if they were used massively. Our laboratory is the real transmission network."
In one demonstration project led by Spanish wind giant Iberdrola Renovables, more than 200 wind turbines with combined capacity of nearly 500MW are set to be connected to the grid without endangering grid security, through the use of a new method for controlling voltage and frequency in the electricity system.
In another project, Danish company Dong Energy will look at how to increase the penetration of wind power generation with the use of electricity demand management.
Projects designed to help increase the flexibility of electricity transmission networks will be led by REE and by Elia, the Belgian transmission system operator.
Two Twenties projects will specifically deal with grid issues facing offshore wind farms. Specifically, French transmission system operator RTE will conduct a demonstration project on critical control and protection devices needed to roll out a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) offshore.
Danish grid operator Energinet.dk will look at how to balance generation losses at offshore wind farms in the event of extreme weather by coordinating these wind farms with hydroelectric plants in Norway.
The Twenties projects are separate from the industrial initiatives launched by the EU under its Strategic Energy Technology plan (SET-plan) at the beginning of June (see following story), although Vigil-Escalera of REE notes that there are synergies with both the wind and electricity grid initiatives.
"Twenties could be considered as a preliminary SET-plan project," says Mata. "We are launching some of the work that will be done with the SET-plan initiatives."