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​Managing and integrating intermittent renewable energy into the grid

Management of Intermittant Energy

Published on 6 October 2016

Renewable energy is gaining traction, raising the major challenge of how to integrate energy from intermittent sources into electricity grids. Rising to this challenge will require R&D to come up with new regulation models, grid infrastructure, and smart energy management systems. Liten is tackling all of these issues, positioning the institute at the cutting edge of smart grid research in France.

“Production accounts for just half of the cost of electricity. The other half is grid infrastructure and management costs. Therefore, the issue of integrating renewables into the grid is actually pretty substantial in the final cost of electricity,” said Nicolas Martin, who heads Liten’s smart grid research efforts.

Our researchers are addressing two major issues. The first is improving electrical systems management (from production and consumption to storage) and inventing new management capabilities with the potential to limit the modifications required to grid infrastructure while increasing grid capacity to integrate growing production and consumption of locally-generated renewable energy. In short, the issue is how to make sure that PV panels installed in a given region for a given grid require the least possible investment (such as in power lines and transformers) to bring costs down. Technology could provide a solution to this crucial problem and help increase our existing grids’ capacity to integrate renewables.

Second, our researchers are seeking ways to balance production and consumption in real time. “In the future, we won’t just be dealing with PV, wind, and nuclear energy in France. We need to start addressing this issue now by improving the synergies between the different energy sources and finding ways to balance supply and demand to make sure that our energy mix works. For example, how does a solar farm in the south of France affect a coal-fired power plant in northeastern France or a wind farm on the Atlantic coast?”, said Martin. Intermittent renewables and storage create challenges for our grids, but, because of their flexibility, they also bring opportunities.

Liten has developed simulation and experimentation tools to identify, qualify, and characterize very complex interactions between electrical systems. Our researchers are also developing smart grid solutions to manage consumption, production, and storage with the goal of balancing supply and demand while minimizing the impact on grid infrastructure. These developments are critical to integrating locally-produced electricity into the grid, facilitating the spread of new energy applications like electric vehicle charging, and responding to commercial buildings’ rising demand for electricity to power expanding IT systems. Our research has garnered interest from France’s major grid owners, operators, and managers (ERDF, EDF, RTE) and utilities (GEG). New market players like local governments, energy aggregators, and industrial corporations will also benefit from these technologies as they carve out positions on the grid management market, where they will need ad hoc management solutions.


Attractive smart grid solutions for grid managers and manufacturers

  • Our integrated approach to smart grid software development and evaluation is inspired by model-based design. Very early on in the process—during the modelling phase—we create controllers virtually identical to those that will be implemented on the actual infrastructure. The first step takes place on our Spider modeling platform, where we can implement specific cases on cyber-physical systems (an energy system associated with communication and information systems). We perform predictive controls to optimize energy according to production and consumption forecasts.
  • The second step is to test the physical components and/or controllers on a power hardware in the loop (PHIL) test bench, which combines real-world equipment with virtual equipment emulated using a model implemented on a real-time target coupled with a power bank. This technique has the advantage of very rapidly testing performance in a part-real, part-virtual environment to gain an understanding of complex system interactions (such as in the grid) not identified during the modeling phase, shortening the controller validation cycle.
  • The final step takes place on our Prismes platform, This experimental smart grid at Liten also includes PV and diesel production; battery, hydrogen, and inertia wheel storage; and experimental homes. The entire system is monitored and controllable, ideal for validating cyber-physical systems in a laboratory environment.
  • Grid operators and manufacturing companies will be particularly interested in using these research resources, some of the most advanced in the world.

  • Icones with Alstom Grid: development of energy management algorithms for stationary storage for electricity grids.
  • Parasol: self-sufficiency and electric mobility (a solar-powered mobility concept at the local scale).


  • ​30 researchers
  • Technologies protected by APP (Agence de protection des programmes), a French organization to protect the rights to digital intellectual property
  • Publications: 

- Dynamic analysis of a stand-alone hybrid PV-diesel system with battery storage.
PV-Hybrids and Mini-Microgrids Conference. Chambéry, France.

- Stochastic Approach to Assess Impacts of Electric Vehicles on the Distribution Network. 2012 IEEE PES 3rd Innovative Smart Grid Technologies EUROPE (ISGT Europe). October 2012. Berlin, Germany.

- Studies of integration of PV production and Energy storage system in the network. International conference on real-time simulation. June 25–27, 2013. Paris, France.

Contact an expert to find out more


  • 30 researchers
  • Technologies protected by APP (Agence de protection des programmes), a French organization to protect the rights to digital intellectual property
  • Contact an expert to find out more