Driving research and innovation in Europe

Extensive European research programmes


European electricity system participants are faced with new challenges: building a single European electricity market, integrating a growing share of renewable energies while ensuring transmission system stability, deploying smart grids, improving integration of the lines in the landscape, reducing maintenance costs and extending network lifetime. Development of scientific and new technological knowledge is essential to plan for and support these changes. In control of Europe’s biggest high and extra-high voltage system, RTE is the driving force behind the setting up of European research and development (R&D) projects.


Close involvement in European R&D with ENTSO-E


Compiling of the European R&D plan is one of the main three remits assigned by the European Union to the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity ENTSO-E. Recognised in Europe for its innovative strength and its R&D resources, the RTE European Division chairs the ENTSO-E R&D committee. The purpose of this committee is to coordinate the transmission system operators’ research activities and to set up consortiums with other partners (universities and manufacturers) in order to be able to respond to invitation to tender for projects launched by the European Commission. This covers the fields of grid safety and security of supply, smooth running of the markets and integration of the new sources of energy.

Our research programmes supported by the European Commission

On the European scale, research constitutes a strategic priority henceforth structured within the framework of the Horizon 2020 initiative. Since 2008, the electricity grids have been covered by the priority initiatives specified in the strategic energy technology plan (SET-Plan) involving transmission system operators, power generation companies, distributors, industrial suppliers, research centres, etc. The electricity system deploys a large number of additional specialist skills. The European Union has built up a pool of know-how and good practices within the framework of the joint research projects that it coordinates and jointly funds in order to achieve its energy transition aims

Within this context, the European Business Division works very closely with our R&D and innovation teams to strengthen RTE’s role in European research. It also coordinates the European project e-Highway 2050.

RTE thus participates in numerous European programmes which are also fed into its own R&D roadmap for 2013-2016.

PEGASE: creating new grid calculation models for zones of several countries

Completed in 2012, this project develops and tests new calculation models for grid status capable of working on the telecommunication scale extended throughout Europe’s electricity system. These new simulation and estimation methods enhance cooperation for real-time electricity system control and scheduling.

ITesla: optimising the safety rules for more intensive grid operation

Partially based on the results of the PEGASE project, this programme foreshadows the next generation of research platforms. Based on a probabilistic approach to assessment of the risks incurred by the grid, it factors in all the European transmission system operators’ forecasts and simulations.

Twenties: new technologies for mass integration of wind power generation in the European grid

Completed in 2014, this project consists of testing, developing and implementing new technologies for the completely safe integration of mass wind power generation in the European electricity grid by the year 2020. Within this framework, RTE has demonstrated that it is technically feasible to connect off-shore wind generation farms to the on-shore electricity system with submarine direct current networks.

Optimate: setting up a new market model integrating renewable energies

The electricity market architecture as it exists today has not been designed to manage the variability of mass generation of renewable energies. This project, coordinated by RTE therefore aims to simulate different market models to simulate renewable energy performance and weigh up the pros and cons.

e-Highway2050: methods for developing future European electricity highways

The purpose of this project is to develop a holistic approach for progressive scheduling of the construction of European electricity highways between 2020 and 2050. The overall approach shall not only integrate the different scenarios predicted for generation and consumption, but also such criteria as environmental impact and technological innovation.

INSPIRE Grid: strengthening participation of the stakeholders and improving acceptance of our future infrastructures

Started up at the end of 2013, multi-disciplinary researchers, transmission system operators and NGO are rallied round this project. The aim is to work together to achieve social acceptance of the line development projects. The expected results include improved procedures for consultation and discussion with the stakeholders (general public, local authorities, local NGOs, etc).

For further details

LIFE ELIA: transforming the wooded areas under the high voltage lines into green corridors

Launched in September 2011, this 5-year programme aims to transform the wooded areas under the high voltage lines into ecological corridors in Belgium and France. The purpose is to set up innovative practices for the management of green corridors in the forests and raise public awareness as to the importance of biodiversity in these electricity line environments.

For futher details

Our 5 R&D priorities at a European level:

  1. 1

    Boldly living up to societal expectations, for example, concerning the integration of our infrastructures in the landscape.

  2. 2

    Guaranteeing safety of the profoundly changing transmission system, while integrating a growing share of renewable energies.

  3. 3

    Improving grid performance, for example, by making demand side management possible.

  4. 4

    Optimising grid maintenance activities in order to extend grid operating lifetime.

  5. 5

    Paving the way for and building Europe’s future grid.

  1. 15 %

    of the RTE R&D initiatives are focused on European projects.

  2. 100 people

    Number of full-time personnel deployed for our R&D programme, around twenty of whom work on European projects.

  3. M€100 invested in research and innovation between 2013 and 2016, an annual budget accounting for 0.6% of our turnover.

Key facts

  • Changes in gross annual electrictity consumption betwenne 2014 - 2015

  • The trend of electricity demand growth in Europe is slowing down

    Overall annual consumtption accross ENTSO-E went down by 1.5% between 2013 and 2014.This phenomenon can be explained by the combined effects of the economic crisis and energy efficiency measures being taken, but also by more pleasant temperatures over this period.

A more in-depth view

Focus on an example: e-Highway 2050, tomorrow’s European electricity highways

The e-Highway 2050 project is the first European project whose aim is to define the power transmission grid and the electricity system in a very long timeframe. The consortium set up for this project is composed of 36 European partners involving most of the European transmission system operators (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, Sweden and Switzerland), research centres, universities, manufacturer associations, the German energy agency and a European NGO. The overall coordination of this consortium was assigned to RTE.

The project studies methodological, technological as well as R&D aspects and economic and regulatory aspects. The results of the project will enable the guidelines to be defined for a more effective and environmentally-friendly electricity system.

For further details on the e-Highway project

Browse through our website


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