The SmartNet project will propose and analyse a number of possible interaction schemes between TSOs and DSOs related to ancillary services provision by distribution grid connected resources.  This includes lab testing end field tests in Italy, Denmark and Spain.  Such coordination and information exchange between transmission and distribution grid operators related to intermittent renewables, flexible loads and local grid status is becoming critically important for ensuring a highly efficient, effective and secure power system.



Closed project



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 691405 (call LCE-06-2015).

Increasingly more intermittent renewables, like wind or PV, are connected at all voltage levels, which not only poses new challenges to TSOs for keeping the balance between generation and consumption, but as well for both TSOs and DSOs to cope with peak injections, reverse power-flows and congestions.  Next to curtailment of renewables, which for obvious reasons is not a favourable option, flexible loads could be used to help (e.g. balancing by load follows generation).  But at the same time, the activation of flexible loads may provoke new – local – problems (like congestion) itself. 

This increasing number of RES and flexible resources that are connected to the distribution grid can be a valuable asset to provide ancillary services to the TSO, but this requires careful coordination between TSO and DSO to ensure that reserves activations for/by the TSO do not inflict problems at the distribution grid and takes into account the capacity and constraints of the grid at all voltage levels. Therefore, this project will investigate :

  • which ancillary services can be provided by distribution grid connected resources
  • the advantages and disadvantages of a number of ancillary market architectures (local, global, coupling, ..) and their associated (balancing) products
  • modeling of flexible resources in relation to the market architectures and products
  • computationally tractable grid models and market clearing/decision algorithms
  • what monitoring and control signals must be exchanged to carry out a coordinated action between TSOs and DSOs, and how can this be mapped on an ICT framework
  • regulatory barriers, market inefficiencies, incentivisation schemes for DSOs, implication on market coupling…

A selected number of options will be compared on the basis of national cases (Italy, Spain, Denmark), and the results will be validated through physical pilots in the same countries.

VITO is leading the WP1 “TSO-DSO coordination for accommodating ancillary services from distribution networks” that defines and elaborates the TSO-DSO coordination schemes for  ancillary services provision by means of RES and DSM sources connected at distribution level, which will be foundation of the project’s activities.

Furthermore, VITO together with KULeuven is leading the task responsible for defining computationally tractable distribution grid models – needed for local market clearing - that are still accurate enough to provide good estimates of network variables (power flows, losses, voltages, etc.) and to capture the main limitations to the provision of ancillary services imposed by the distribution grid and its physical constraints (power capacity limits, voltage limits, losses …).

Other important contributions related to flexibility modeling and aggregation/disaggregation incl. mapping on a standards-based ICT framework, market clearing algorithms.

If you want to contribute to SmartNets research activities, you can visit their consultations web page and answer the questions.

Daan Six


Daan Six

Programme Manager Energy Technology at EnergyVille/VITO