EERA reinforces its interest in the digitalisation of the energy sector

By Rafael Mayo-García, CIEMAT and EERA DfE Coordinator, (pictured)
Summer 2021

Rafael Mayo-GarcíaThe European Energy Research Alliance (EERA), the largest energy research community in Europe, has a strong ambition to be at the forefront of the clean energy research advancement.

For this reason, and recognizing the cross-sectoral effort that is needed to eventually drive the profound societal transformation required to achieve climate neutrality, where information technologies and the digitalisation of energy play a critical and transformative role, EERA has officially launched a transversal Joint Programme (tJP) on Digitalisation for Energy (DfE). Digital technologies will absolutely have a pivotal role to play in the energy sector as they are needed for improving the efficiency of either a research or business’s process, consistency, and quality, so EERA has reinforced its strategic agenda by having this specific programme in EERA.

An EERA Joint Programme (JP) is a permanent structure that allows EERA to foster pan-European R&D&I collaboration on a joint Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda, with the objective of building leadingedge expertise in the various fields of clean energy. On this occasion, the structure of the new JP has been designed as a cross-cutting entity with the aim of leveraging pre-existing expertise, and of complementing it with high-level scientific knowledge on the latest digital concepts and technologies with a special focus on high performance computing (HPC), data science, and artificial intelligence.

Digitalisation for Energy has its roots in the expertise of numerous researchers involved in EERA activities, many of whom have already been active in recent years in projects related to information technologies and digital challenges in the clean energy field. Examples of this focus can be found in the projects EERAdata, which aims to discuss and advance the state of the art of FAIR and open energy data, and the Energy-oriented Centre of Excellence (EoCoE), offering an everexpanding network of experts in HPC and in sustainable energies, from academia, industry, and the public sector.

The Joint Programme in Digitalisation for Energy integrates on a modular basis all the existing sub-programmes that, although belonging to other established Joint Programmes, had already developed a particular expertise in digitalisation topics. This innovative approach in the implementation of the new programme allows for an easy integration with current and future sub-programmes on digitalisation (i.e., cybersecurity, blockchain, etc.).

Currently, Digitalisation for Energy is structured as it follows: two new sub-programmes launched jointly with the Joint Programme, namely: High Performance Computing and Data Science and Artificial Intelligence; as well as four transversal sub-programmes already set up and belonging to other Joint Programmes, namely: Technology in JP Energy Systems Integration, Multiscale modelling of materials, processes and devices in JP AMPEA, Digitalisation in JP Hydropower, and Physical modelling, materials health monitoring and non-destructive microstructure examination in JP Nuclear Materials.

Since its official launch in mid- October 2020, the new EERA transversal Joint Programme has developed several activities aimed at raising awareness of the programme itself, with the purpose of creating synergies and fostering cross-cutting collaboration. A dissemination effort has been carried out to promote the programme with the energy and ICT communities through participation in well-recognised events such as the HPC summit week 2021, the upcoming European Sustainable Energy Week 2021, ISC HPC 2021, and the 11th ETIP SNET Regional Workshop just to mention a few.

In parallel, efforts of this initial stage are being focused on consolidating synergies within EERA, not only on strategic initiatives that concern the whole EERA community, but also on joint research efforts with specific Joint Programmes, such as a project on Energy Materials for Innovation with JP AMPEA and Nuclear Materials. Some of these endeavors have already materialized in a community paper, Advancing FAIR metadata standards for low carbon energy research’ ,under the leadership of the EERAdata project, and in a position paper about energy and supercomputing that is being drafted with the EoCoE project. Moreover, the transversal Joint Programme in Digitalisation is working on collecting a map of numerical codes, repositories, and digital methodologies being exploited in the energy sector that will eventually be made public at the EERA website.

In summary, the transversal Joint Programme in Digitalisation for Energy is a materialization of EERA’s acknowledgement of the crucial role that information technologies and digitalisation have in advancing the clean energy transition towards climate neutrality by 2050. Through the transversal Joint Programme, the Alliance aims at fostering research that will be trans-disciplinary to all EERA activities and to the whole energy research community. The experience derived from this process, as firstof- a-kind cross-cutting structure, is expected to help identify best practices and lead the way to possible additional transversal Joint Programmes within EERA in the future.

About the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA):
The European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) is an association of European public research centres and universities active in low-carbon energy research. EERA pursues the mission of catalysing European energy research for a climate-neutral society by 2050. Bringing together more than 250 organisations from 30 countries, EERA is Europe's largest energy research community. EERA coordinates its research activities through 18 Joint Programmes and is a key player in the European Union's Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan. For further information, see