Facilitating the Process of Establishing a Flemish Energy Community

A recurring issue we keep hearing about regards the corrosive effect that our collective ecological footprint has on our planet. This all has to do with how our way of living lacks a focus on recycling/upcycling the products we consume and sustainability as a whole. The term ‘circular economy’ has thus in this respect been gaining traction around the globe – it sets forth the model for an economy that simultaneously respects our society’s needs and the planet’s boundaries.

Transitioning to a circular economy is becoming a priority and it has recently become one of the aims of the European Union. Within this framework, steps are being taken to transition towards a more sustainable way of living. Such an example is making our energy-use more circular and renewable. Projects are being funded and developed to test distinct types of solutions that could be implemented across multiple levels (individual, regional, national and European).

STORY: a European project demonstrating and evaluating innovative approaches for energy storage systems in residential and industrial environments, with a specific focus on their benefits in distribution systems aims at doing just that. This 5-year project started in May 2015, brings together 18 partners from 8 European countries and involves 6 demonstrations in 4 countries. Oud-Heverlee is one of the residential demonstrators – it is set at the individual level which thereby allows locals to take on a pioneering role in how the (circular) future of energy consumption could look like.

The project’s implementation and success are dependent on the involvement of the Oud-Heverlee residents themselves. Bringing them together as a community and enabling them to take on a role of co-creators is key. To facilitate this, STORY along with the projects MUSE GRIDS, Interconnect and Rolecs, organised a workshop with the residents of Oud-Heverlee on March 14th, aimed at exposing residents to what these energy projects mean, what an ‘energy community’ is, how they can become such a community, what it would entail for them, and what their participation in the project would look like. The residents displayed positive reactions and remained open to continuing on the path towards transforming Oud-Heverlee into an energy community.