The European North Sea Energy Alliance (ENSEA) aims to develop a network to bring together energy know-how and align research programs through better coordination and exploitation of research. To achieve the European Union’s “20-20-20″ climate and energy goals as well as sustainable growth, the European energy system has to change rapidly to accommodate more renewable energy.

Because power output from renewables can be highly variable, successfully operating such a system will need a combination of more energy storage, flexible thermal generation, increased interconnection between neighboring power networks and demand-side management. ENSEA proposes a holistic focus on the energy system that will generate innovative solutions to meet the challenges and market needs of a resource efficient Europe. Successful exploitation of these innovations will provide new business opportunities and boost the competitiveness of regions and the wider European economy.

The project will capitalise on existing successful collaboration between the Northern Netherlands and North Western Germany extending this approach to Scotland and Norway.

ENSEA started on 1st of October 2012 and will end on 30th September 2015. The project is supported by the European Commission under the European FP7 programme Capacities: the seventh framework programme for research and technological development. The European Union supports the project with a funding of nearly three million euros under the “Regions of knowledge” programme. The main strands within this project are to promote cooperation between public, private and academic sectors and to facilitate the development of knowledge on energy system integration and demand management.


ENSEA aims to accelerate the implementation of a resource-efficient Europe by strengthening the research and innovation potential of European regions. Those regions include ‘research-driven clusters’ bringing together universities, research centres, enterprises, regional authorities and other stakeholders. A key driver to defining regional policy will be the adoption of an energy system approach focusing on how to handle the rising share of fluctuating renewable energy production in the existing energy system.

Through regional analyses, followed by the creation and implementation of regional and combined Joint Action Plans, the partners will identify, exchange and jointly implement “good practice” for stimulating research, technology transfer, innovation and exploitation of results, and leverage of funding sources at regional, national and European level. The objectives of the cooperation, development and integration activities in ENSEA are as follows:

  1. Coordinate research, exchange of knowledge and staff
  2. Organise transnational cooperation and knowledge transfer within and between research driven ‘energy clusters’
  3. Coordinate and strengthen fundamental and applied Research and Technical Development (RTD) within a system integration approach and assure effective exploitation
  4. Develop internationalisation strategies to include other high-potential regions within Europe or abroad

Energy system integration is explained as managing a rising share of fluctuating renewable energy production through a combination of flexible technologies including demand side management, more use of energy storage, more flexible generation and more interconnection between networks white meeting social, legal and economic feasibility conditions.

Themes within ENSEA:

Energy system: The infrastructure and processes that deliver power to end users and includes the electricity and gas supply networks, power generators (both large and centralised land small and decentralised) and other assets.

Balancing: Regulation of energy production, storage and consumption in order to equalise the production and consumption at any time (e.g. by quick regulating gas power plants) to keep the electrical energy system secure.

Back up: Energy production capacity which is in standby to react quickly when there is a difference in energy production and consumption e.g. because of fluctuating production of renewable energy sources like wind and solar energy.

Storage: Small capacity storage and high power pumps (e.g. flywheels or batteries) capable for operating for minutes or hours, or larger capacity storage necessary for extended periods without production from renewable sources.

Infrastructure (electricity grid): Smart grid infrastructures designed for both supply to customers as well as production of power within these grids.

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