Innovation at all levels of the company

Smart electricity at all levels of the company


Research and innovation constitute the source of smart electricity – ranging from the first overhead networks and then underground networks to the smart grids, based on the setting up of the European electricity market. RTE has always been the driving force behind changes in the European electricity transmission system.

Now more than ever, we are focusing our efforts on the future grid by pre-empting the changes with the main aim of being the energy transition network.

Achieve electricity system aims

The future electricity system will be safer, more effective, more cost-effective, cleaner and simpler. In its state of constant change, it is bound to speed up the process spurred on by major challenges. Thus, new technical and cost-effective flexibility is developed, energy sources are diversified, generation is decentralised and new consumption modes are developed. This also involves integration of a growing share of renewable energies, while continuing to ensure security of electricity supply. In addition, development of the European electricity market emphasises the need to redesign the exchanges (electrical flows and information) between the system operators in every country. This contributes to standardisation of the market mechanisms on a European scale.

Achieving greater coordination between the main participants in the electricity sector, greater interactivity with the users, greater forward planning and energy simplicity, etc –in a word smarter – is the challenge facing our teams.

Building on technological progress

Numerous innovations have opened up significant prospects for change. The electricity system is more effective every day due to the progress made in the fields of materials, applied mathematics, cutting edge information technology, telecommunications and power electronics. By integrating more communication and technologies in the grid, the smart grids will become a key driver of transformation. The smart grids will eventually enable the participants in the electricity market to interact in an optimum way on a European scale.

All the fields of RTE activity are involved – from operation to maintenance, from engineering solutions to the development of decision-making support tools and from electricity market flow simulators to electricity grid flow simulators. In addition, research in the fields of sociology and the environment helps us to better understand all the interactions with the stakeholders during the consultation phase, prior to development of grid infrastructures, and therefore to fulfil their expectations in the best way possible.

An R&D organisation capable of meeting our challenges

The electricity system is faced with multiple related challenges, so  we have had to develop an overall research strategy. Acquisition of new knowledge interacts with the three main sectors of activity (development, maintenance and operation). It is essential to deploy and pool our innovation drivers (hardware, software, interfaces, modelling, testing, etc) so as to be able to advance in our research.

The engineers and researchers in our R&D and innovation team work hand in hand with the operational specialisations. Together, they design the technical solution of tomorrow’s smart grid. They develop the tools and coordinate the demonstrator projects so as to speed up the industrial implementation of our ideas. Our R&D work is also supported by partnerships with academics, research centres and industrialists.

On a European scale, all the participants in the European electricity sector now share the same aims. This is why our teams take part in numerous European research programmes, within the framework of projects supported by the European Commission and the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E).

The RTE R&D and innovation programme is:

  1. 1

    Over 130 people working full time

  2. 2

    €100 million invested between 2013 and 2016

  3. 3

    The equivalent of 20 people working full time on the research projects jointly financed with French and European subsidies

  1. 8 500 employees deployed

    J.nov, our innovation laboratory develops and rolls out innovative practices related to our main aims. The RTE personnel can submit their ideas and initiatives to the interactive platform and the regional suggestion scheme for collective innovation.

Smart grids : why and how

To view subtitles in English, click “CC” at the bottom right hand corner of the video.

A more in-depth view

Designing tomorrow’s grid is also part of our remit

Discover one of the results of our research programmes and our ongoing innovation projects:

Twenties: RTE is working on bringing the off-shore wind generation farms onto the grid…

The aim of this European project is to remove any obstacles in the path of mass integration of wind power generation in the European electricity system by the year 2020. With this aim in mind, RTE is working on the development of direct current grids, the only technology that can be envisaged for electricity transmission with submarine cables over long distances. A real challenge as no such grid has ever been developed. The next step: a precise analysis of the performance of this new system prior to its integration in the grid. In order to do so, RTE has set up a real-time simulation laboratory to test the new components making up the direct current grids.

… and Alstom Grid validates high voltage direct current circuit breaker technology

Alstom Grid, RTE’s partner of in the Twenties project, tested the performance of the linchpin of the protection system for this grid: the high voltage direct current circuit breaker. Its purpose is to promptly and selectively disconnect defective structures in the event of a short circuit. This system, which is thoroughly mastered for alternating current, requires the development of completely new technology for alternating current.

iTesla: innovative tools to ensure the safety of Europe’s electricity system

This European project foreshadows the next generation of decision-making support research platforms. And why does this represent a novel approach? It assesses the probability and severity of the risks incurred in real time on the grid combined with a range of countermeasures to prevent them from occurring, while factoring in the simulations run and predictions made by all the European transmission system operators.

e-Highway2050: for an overall approach to the future European electricity highways

Europe is planning the construction of real electricity highways between 2020 and 2050. The purpose of this European project is to develop an overall approach for progressive scheduling, integrating the different scenarios forecast for generation and consumption, but also criteria such as environmental impact and technological innovation.

A smart substation to foster integration of renewable energies

The aim is to equip the substations with innovative components and tools in order to adapt them to mass development of renewable energies. The smart substations project is jointly financed by several industrialists with the framework of future investments.

Better integration of the pylons in their territory

RTE has developed a one-of-a-kind concept of pylons in France for the reconstruction of the line between Avelin and Gavrelle : high white masts, simple and elegant arrows, for better integration in the landscape, after consultation with the stakeholders involved in this project.


Browse through our website


Thinking ahead to tomorrow's market

As part of the fight against global warming, the European Union has set itself ambitious targets for 2020.

Embody smart electricity: our R&D roadmap

RTE has set up an R&D roadmap for 2017-2020 to meet the major challenges faced by the French and European power system.

RTE: from past to present

From the date it was founded, RTE has been constantly developing a smart grid ...