Integrated local energy systems (Energy islands)
The fast growth of the energy production from renewable energy sources offers new and economically attractive opportunities for decarbonising local energy systems on the mainland (e.g. isolated villages, small cities, urban districts, rural areas with weak or non-existing grid connections). It is also a technological and financial challenge for the electricity network. Decarbonisation and energy savings should result from an optimal combination of these energy sources. In this context, storage of all energy vectors, including possibilities offered by batteries and electric vehicles, and intensive use of the latest technologies on power electronics, control and digitisation will certainly play an increasingly important role. Local energy systems may also show economically interesting conditions to boost local energy sources and activate local demand-response. Innovative approaches can result in attractive business cases for both districts and remote areas, including outermost regions. At the same time, decarbonisation has to go hand-in-hand with the improvement of local air quality and the acceptance by citizens.
Proposals will develop and demonstrate solutions which analyse and combine, in a well delimited system, all the energy vectors that are present and interconnect them where appropriate.
Proposals should present a preliminary analysis of the local case as part of the content of the proposal and propose to develop solutions and tools for the optimisation of the local energy network, but having a high replication potential across Europe.
Local consumers, small to medium industrial production facilities and commercial buildings should be involved in the projects from the start.
TRL will range typically between 5 and 8 (see part G of the General Annexes). Proposers will indicate the estimates levels of TRL at the beginning and at the end of the project.
Proposals should include a task on the analysis of obstacles to innovation and foresee the coordination on policy relevant issues (e.g. regulatory framework, business models, data management, consumer engagement) with similar EU-funded projects through the BRIDGE initiative. An indicative budget share of at least 2% is recommended for the research work associated with these issues and an additional 2% for the coordination effort are recommended.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 5 to 6 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
In several international contexts such as the Clean Energy Ministerial, the Mission Innovation initiative launched in COP21, the International Energy Agency Implementing Agreement on Smart Grids (ISGAN), bi-lateral discussions between India and the EU identified this topic as being of common interest owing to its potential for decarbonisation. In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged, in particular with India.
The supported projects are expected to contribute to:
- validate solutions for decarbonisation of the local energy system while ensuring a positive impact on the centralised energy infrastructure, on the local economy and local social aspects, and local air quality;
- enhance the involvement of local energy consumers and producers, create energy communities in the development and the operation of local energy systems and test new business models;
- validate approaches to safe and secure local energy system that integrates significant shares of renewables (electricity, heating, cooling, water, wastes, etc.). For variable renewables, this entails the development of an accurate prediction system for the local generation of energy and adequate solutions to match the generation with local consumption as a function of time;
- benchmark technical solutions and business models that can be replicated in many local regions and that are acceptable by local citizens.
Proposals are invited to identify and substantiate to which of the above impacts they contribute and include ad-hoc indicators to measure the progress against specific objectives of their choice that could be used to assess the progress during the project life.
Delegation Exception Footnote
It is expected that this topic will continue in 2020.
Socio-economic science and humanities