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French firms join up to create smart grid and energy storage R&D centre

Alstom and CEA create lab dedicated to energy storage and smart grid integration

The R&D centre will aim to integrate solar farms into smart transmission and distribution grids

Two French firms have created a R&D centre to develop advanced smart grid and energy solutions. Alstom Grid and the teams of the French state-owned research entity CEA - INES (Institut national de l’énergie solaire) have announced the creation of the joint research and development centre in Chambery, France.

The laboratory will focus on developing advanced energy storage solutions and integrating renewable energy farms, such as solar plants, into smart transmission and distribution grids.

Alstom Grid, Alstom’s sector dedicated to power transmission, brings its expertise in power electronics, power conversion and smart grid control room integration.

Patrick Plas, senior vice-president, grid power and automation at Alstom Grid, said: “With the creation of this R&D centre, Alstom Grid confirms its commitment to accelerating research for large-scale energy storage solutions. Already at the forefront of smart grid innovation, this partnership will allow us to develop and test new technologies and build CO2 free electrical grids. This laboratory is complementary to the “IEED Supergrid” which is to be created in Villeurbanne”.

Alstom said the laboratory is a natural expansion of the relationship established in the past three years with INES through key smart grid demonstration projects, such as Reflexe in Nice and Greenlys in Rhône-Alpes, France.

The partnership has been put in place to develop early breakthrough innovation by expanding services and solutions to accelerate the deployment of embedded storage into smart grid systems and facilitating further introduction of renewable beyond the European target of 20 per cent of the energy mix by 2020. The teams will also further investigate the potential use of direct current (DC) applications into smart cities projects.

Jean Therme, director of CEA Technological Research, said: “This partnership combines our recognised expertise around Solar and Storage with Alstom Grid’s research and development programmes as well as our joint first returns of experience from current demonstrator projects around the world. Collaborating together on sustainable technology research will be a major step for our two organisations.”