High-level Conference: Local Energy Communities for Businesses April 29th in Ghent, Belgium

Transitioning towards clean energy, as is the ambition at the EU level, is crucial in order to attain a higher degree of equilibrium between our consumption and the planet’s boundaries. In line with this, the EU’s clean energy package is expected to be transposed on the national level soon. In this document, energy production at the local level is perceived crucial to foster renewable energy production. Therefore, one of the ways in which renewable energy production is being tackled is through the creation of local energy communities, both for individuals and businesses alike.

Although very promising, energy communities still face multiple obstacles to their development, especially regarding their legal framework. The high-level conference that took place on April 29th in Ghent and welcomed 150 participants, was aimed at presenting the latest information on the development of LECs particularly for businesses within the EU. The event was co-organized by the following partners: BISEPS, Interreg 2 Seas Mers Zeeën, ROLECS, STORY, Agentschap Innoveren & Ondernemen, Flux50 and Provincie West-Vlaanderen.

The perspective of Flemish LECs and the EU’s vision on LECs were presented, and what needs to addressed in order to make LECs work in Flanders and the EU, who some of the EU frontrunners are (UK, France, Austria) and what the needs of businesses currently are were all topics of lively discussions.

Flanders stated its ambition to become carbon-neutral by 2050, and in that respect local energy communities represent a way to contribute to attaining said goal. The EU is geared towards supporting innovation, but it also supports existing solutions, and raised the points of trend endorsement goals (such as social acceptance, monitoring and reviewing, easy administration), market access and consumer protection. Concerning how to make LECs work, the following points were raised: a business case exists but it should also be realistic and feasible, as energy transition takes time.  Some of the examples brought forth were social acceptance and inclusion, citizen engagement, (smart)digitalization, platforms for the system to function and added value for the specific end-consumer. Regarding the needs of businesses, issues such as regulatory stability, metering tools, data-sharing, risk assessment mitigation and income streams were addressed. 

Prospex Institute is proud to have contributed to this event through the design, moderation and facilitation of the workshops and panel discussion.


Local Energy Communities – Exploring Research, Technologies and Regulations for their Implementation in Europe

Local energy communities and smart energy systems are key elements to increase the use of renewable energy resources at a local level, helping locations with weak connections to the national grid to maximise their energy independence whilst also reducing carbon emissions.

With the participation of European policy-makers and leading companies of the energy sector, the all-day event will feature the presentation of four H2020 projects (COMPILE, MERLON, MUSE GRIDS AND STORY) that are currently producing research activities on the implementation of local energy communities and the exploitation of smart energy systems.

A panel discussion will tackle the main points needed for the establishment of performing energy islands, considering innovations, integration between different sectors and technologies, and regulations on a international and national level.

In the afternoon, a workshop on energy local communities will take place, giving the opportunity to stakeholders and policy-makers of the energy sector to debate together around different topics: from the most innovative technologies to the impact of Clean Energy for All Europeans package; from the potential replicability of local energy communities around Europe to the business cases needed in the different member states.

Join us for this event, registrations are now open but we only have a limited number of seats available, don’t wait too long!

To access the registration page, please click here.

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. 

STORY 7th General Meeting

On the 17th of April 2018, the STORY consortium got together in Finland for the 7th General Meeting of the project. These General Meetings are a very important part of every research projects, they offer the opportunity for all projects partners who are based all over Europe to get in the same room and discuss the progress of the project.

The three days meeting allowed partners to get a head start on designing business models as well as getting updates on the progress of the demonstration sites. Partners also got the opportunity of visiting VTT’s battery testing facility and taste some Finish salmon.

STORY Second Advisory Board Meeting in Leuven

On the 27th and the 28th of April 2017, the STORY project hosted its second Advisory Board Meeting.

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20 participants from across Europe convened in Leuven to engage with the STORY team, to make sure that critical players can clearly articulate their interests and needs for storage and, at the same time, help guide STORY in addressing challenges and hurdles around adoption. The advisory board plays a strong role in integrating knowledge and innovation, picking up on the outcomes of the demonstrations and contributing to the market, policy and regulatory framework analysis.

The Advisory Board meeting gave the opportunity to all participants to get input and guidance on the ongoing work of STORY, especially about demonstration sites, business preconditions and how to better reach STORY’s target audiences with key messages.

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Furthermore, Mr. Ivan Pearson of DG Energy gave a keynote presentation on the Winter Package. This led to a facilitated, interactive and multifaceted discussion with the Advisory Board Members on customer issues.

The meeting was also combined with a field trip to the STORY industrial demo site in Olen.

Prospex Institute and STORY Partners design and facilitate workshops on Microgrids

PI, together with STORY-partners Think-E and Vlerick Business School, designed and facilitated the brainstorm workshops on microgrids. Some 40 participants worked hard on identifying barriers and opportunities in separate breakout groups, where they envisioned the future roll-out of these grids. Exploring topics such as energy management, pricing and supply, participants voiced their ideas, concerns and suggestions as to what the energy future might keep in store.

Innovative energy storage business models

28 participants from across Europe convened in Brussels to engage with the STORY team, to discuss the project’s preliminary analysis on innovative energy storage business models, explore the potential of three cases (UK Power Network, Sonnen, and the STORY residential demo site in Belgium), test their sensitivity to future evolutions in the energy market, and what would be needed to make them more future-proof.

The workshop, hosted by the Liaison Agency Flanders-Europe and run by a team of Prospex Institute facilitators, was preceded by a visit to the STORY demonstration site in Oud-Heverlee in the morning: this residential demonstration site connects 8 buildings, integrating lead-acid batteries, thermal energy storage, PV panels, as well as other technologies including electric vehicles and smart home applications, into a micro-grid.

In the afternoon, the participants, including representatives from major industry associations, utility companies and start-ups, from across the energy value chain, analysed the above three cases and their business models through interactive discussions guided by facilitators. The contributions and statements produced by the participants during the workshop were collected by the STORY team and will be a crucial input for the project’s further work on energy markets, regulation & policy.

First STORY Advisory Board Meeting: Demonstrating and enabling multi-modal energy storage solutions

On Monday 6 June 2016, STORY hosted its first Advisory Board meeting in Helsinki, designed and facilitated by Prospex Institute. The Advisory Board Meeting brought together 17 high-level participants from across the energy value chain, from generation to end-users, representing businesses (e.g. DSOs, renewable energy companies, start-ups, aggregators, etc.), civil society (consumer organisations), and public institutions. In an intense two-day workshop process, AB Members engaged with the STORY team in an open dialogue, guided by facilitators, to discuss the opportunities and obstacles related to energy storage. The central themes that emerged from these discussions included market design, network management, and regulations.

After a field trip to VTT’s battery testing facilities, the focus turned to how the STORY project could address the identified opportunities and obstacles in its work, including through STORY’s different demo-sites across Europe, and its Work Packages related to simulations, business models, markets, and regulation & policy.

Over the course of the next few months, the STORY team will be compiling and analysing the rich input the Advisory Board provided and continue to engage with the Members on this exciting project. As recommended by the Board, STORY will have to continuously contribute to decision-making processes, including through the BRIDGE project collaboration mechanism, in a quickly-changing and complex energy landscape in order to have a real impact. Moreover, as a central goal, STORY should aim to demonstrate multi-modal energy storage solutions and their value, ultimately enabling a flexible market that allows for the inclusion of energy prosumers, consumers, communities, or in any form, into an overarching energy market model.

STORY | Rolling out microgrids: PI facilitates interactive seminar

On 7 December 2015, Prospex Institute moderated an interactive seminar on microgrids, as part of a larger conference hosted by Smart Grid Flanders.

PI, together with STORY-partners Think-E and Vlerick Business School, designed and facilitated the brainstorm workshops on microgrids. Some 40 participants worked hard on identifying barriers and opportunities in separate breakout groups, where they envisioned the future roll-out of these grids. Exploring topics such as energy management, pricing and supply, participants voiced their ideas, concerns and suggestions as to what the energy future might keep in store.

The seminar was organised by Smart Grid Flanders, the Flemish branch of the Global Smart Grid Federation, which gathers key players from academia, private companies and competent authorities that are involved in, or advocate for, smart grid deployment. The network offers opportunities for knowledge-sharing, capacity-building and partnerships across multiple sectors and backgrounds.