TwinEU, a €25m, three-year project to develop a digital twin of the entire European electricity grid, was formally launched in Brussels in mid-January, paving the way for collaboration between 75 partners working on 8 pilot schemes across 11 countries.
The researchers aim to create a digital twin capable of running simulations to explore the consequences of various potential grid disruptions, as well as improving management, operation and resilience of the EU grid by supporting the development of new technologies.
The project, largely funded by the EU’s Horizon Europe programme, is being coordinated by the Fraunhofer Centre for Digital Energy, based in Aachen, Germany. Participants include transmission system operators (TSOs), distribution system operators (DSOs), energy market players, research institutes and teams running large pilots or demonstrators. The launch meeting was attended by 80 people in person and 100 people online.
The project is one response to pressure on the electricity sector to find innovative ways to incorporate ever-growing levels of intermittent renewable energy across increasingly complex international grid connections, while also allowing consumers to play a greater role in the energy transition. The EU is targeting a massive increase in the share of renewables in its energy mix by 2030 to at least 42.5%, almost double the current share.
Making the network more resilient to shocks such as those triggered by cyber-attacks is another priority. A digital twin capable of modelling the entire network is seen as a vital contributor to achieving both those objectives.
ENTSO-E and DSO Entity – the associations for European TSOs and DSOs respectively – originally signed a declaration of intent in December 2022 to develop the digital twin in response to an EU Action Plan, Digitalizing the Energy System, which outlined measures needed to enable a rapid transition to greener energy in the bloc.
A key objective of the programme is to foster data exchange and a coordinated international approach to grid development across Europe, which is likely to produce a more efficient, cost-effective and sustainable network than just working in national silos.