About

Regional Ecosystems FOR Multiple-Energy Resilient Systems

Renewable Energy Valleys to increase energy security while accelerating the green transition in Europe

Funding:

Total: 

23.207.069,00

Eu Contribution:
19.649.635,13

CORDIS Europe link

A group of people walking in a green valley
credits: Rebecca Hueting - copyright REFORMERS 2024

Project in a nutshell

How can communities shift from Local Energy Systems to Renewable Energy Valleys?

A LES is a connected energy system including renewable production, distribution, aggregation, and consumption of several energy vectors which are interconnected at the local level. In REFORMERS a Renewable Energy Valley (REV) is defined as a LES which is fully covering its local energy needs on an annual basis by means of renewable energy production.

Turning a LES into a REV means harnessing local renewable energy sources able to meet specific profiles of demand for heating and cooling, electricity, and transport.

REFORMERS will combine and integrate breakthrough technologies for the generation, storage, and distribution of renewable energy with the support of novel algorithms and a digital twin.

 

Can renewables alone cover the full energy demand of a large and complex community at affordable prices for end consumers?

The main ambition of REFORMERS project is to diversify renewable energy supplies and maximise their overall efficiency. By ramping up green energy production through the combination of lab-tested technological solutions with the most innovative energy management systems, the Flagship Valley in Alkmaar shall be able to cover more than 100% of its energy demand through local renewable energy production and reach 75% of self-consumption through demand side management by the end of the project.

By then, end customers should be able to buy renewable energy (electricity, heat, and fuels) at a lower cost than current and forecasted market prices.

Context and challenges

How can European regions meet their own energy needs?

While the developments of wind and solar energy create optimism because the needed volumes to reach climate-neutrality seem achievable at lower cost and environmental impact, the intermittent nature of these energy sources creates stress on the basic principle of the electricity grid: supply must equal demand at any time. In addition, the EU must urgently decrease its dependency on (unreliable) fuel imports which have amplifying effects on overall energy prices.

REFORMERS addresses these challenges starting by involving an entire community – from private businesses and industries to public administrations and citizens in designing and developing a REV, putting in common energy needs, data, infrastructures, and knowledge. The result will be a model to be replicated in other local communities around Europe.

Objectives

Can Renewable Energy Valley become self-sufficient adopting already available technologies?

REFORMERS aims to provide a set of solutions enabling to analyse and manage REVs reaching the level of an independent energy supply for different highly integrated energy vectors. Most of the innovations we propose combine and integrate existing technologies (generation, storage, distribution) in novel combinations and more integrated architecture, driven by novel algorithms.

Nevertheless, self-sufficiency is only possible thanks to the contributions from several research institutions and companies which developed state-of-the-art engineering and design tools in their respective fields. As members of REFORMERS’ Consortium, we will integrate them into a two-sided framework which will be tested and deployed in the extensive real-life demonstration site in Alkmaar:

  1. the EVT – REFORMERS Energy Valley Toolbox
  2. the DT – REFORMERS Digital Twin

The gathered know-how in Alkmaar FV’s will be used to continue its operation after the project and for replication towards several other sites in Europe. The lessons learned in such sandbox will be gathered into policy advice and business models.

  • Objective 1

    Demonstrate a 100% self-sustaining carbon-neutral flagship Renewable Energy Valley

    Description:
    Design, build and operate a renewable energy valley linked to a diverse community of 3000 households and 300 businesses.
    Status:
    The “living lab” covers different combinations of closed and open markets, and urban and rural setting. It develops and promotes the diversification of gas supplies via higher levels of sustainable bio-methane (mainly based on organic waste and agricultural residues) and green hydrogen.
    Target:
    • Produce >100% of the FV energy consumption through local renewable production.
    • Reach an auto-consumption of >75% through demand side management and energy storage units.
    • Deliver energy at a Local Levelized Cost of Energy (LLCOE), equal or lower than current and forecast local energy prices in the FV.
  • Objective 2

    Ensure long-term socio-economic and environmental benefits of the Renewable Energy Valley on the local communities

    Description:
    Assess the costs avoided from fossil fuels imports – in line with the REPowerEU strategy – to decrease the dependence on such imports. Moreover, assess the stability, robustness, and fitness of the local resources and needs of the LES developed. Environmental and socio-economic impacts (positive and negative) will also be assessed during the design phase and operations for the local community or region.
    Status:
    1. Local stakeholders have been contacted to start the identification of most suitable business and service models to draw investors’ interest.
    2. Most suitable governance models are currently under evaluation, to support the transition process, provide best-practices and legitimise decisions.
    3.  Legislative and regulatory landscape evaluation is ongoing, that might influence REVs adoption in Europe.
    4. Stakeholder groups have been identified and co-creation techniques included in the Communication, Dissemination and Engagement plan. They will be used to evaluate solutions and promote consensus while assessing REFORMERS’ social impact.
    Target:
    • Model, test and deliver an environmental and socio-economic impact assessment methodology for REVs.
    • Cut fossil fuel consumption in the FV by at least XX%
    • Create new jobs linked to renewable energy system value chains.
  • Objective 3

    Co-develop sustainable quadruple helix ecosystems for the creation of Renewable Energy Valleys

    Description:
    Support the co-development of new arrangements for business and governance with a quadruple helix ecosystems approach (science, policy, industry, and society) to generate local jobs, skills, economic growth, and benefits for citizens. Stakeholder engagement, training materials – especially for citizens -, tools and solutions for replication will be the means to co-design the FV and replication pathways in the RVs.
    Status:
    The participation of the local industry and other stakeholders in the value chain, including citizens and Energy Communities has kicked-off in the early phases. A tailored engagement strategy has been agreed upon, to promote citizens’ participation in the design, implementation, and exploitation of REV to increase acceptability.
    Target:
    • Implement co-developed arrangements among stakeholder groups, representing the quadruple helix ecosystems (science, policy, industry, society).
    • Involving more than 500 participants in events held across the FV and RVs throughout the project.
  • Objective 4

    Foster the creation of renewable energy supply chains across Europe

    Description:
    Develop of cost-effective upscaling and commercialization approaches of renewable energy system solutions for electricity, heat, and fuel, linked to robust business models along the value chains. REFORMERS focuses on triggering collaborative ventures with local stakeholders and facilitate collaboration, providing financial opportunities to invest in RE and facilitating access to information on markets opportunities and helping them connect with potential customers.
    Status:
    REFORMERS identifies and involves SME’s that are already active in the renewable energy sector or that have the potential to partnering with industry associations and business networks. The project plans to organise networking events and workshops and to deliver tailored training and guidance to help SMEs and other stakeholders develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the RE sector.
    Target:
    • Create of new job opportunities linked to local or regional renewable energy system value chains.
    • Involve >50 SMEs linked to European RE supply chains
    • Implement supply chain agreements in the European RE sector
  • Objective 5

    Understand end-user behaviour and increase acceptance and integration of RE solutions.

    Description:
    A clear understanding of end-user behaviour is key to increasing acceptance and integration of renewable energy solutions ant the needed infrastructures and technologies to allow their full deployment.
    Status:
    Different energy end user’s (e.g. buildings, mobility, industrial parks) of the multiple renewable energy carriers have been identified, and their energy consumption behaviour is currently under analysis in the Local Energy System.
    Target:
    • Engage as many stakeholder groups as possible in advanced network building activities, from social media to real-life.
    • Reach 90% energy user acceptance in the FV.
  • Objective 6

    Develop a versatile, scalable and interchangeable Digital Twin for Local Energy Systems

    Description:
    Develop, test and deploy a Digital Twin blueprint for Renewable Energy Valleys which is scalable, reconfigurable and cyber-secure. The digital twins will allow for scenario analysis to constantly improve multiple carrier grid management, planning, data gathering/handling and cyber security. This in turn would lead to the reduction of energy use and energy losses through the integration of effective and innovative energy-efficient solutions. Moreover, operating an REV with the support of a digital twin is expected to cut the operating costs (primarily by reducing imbalance costs and by reducing exposure to price fluctuations) and open new value streams.
    Status:
    Currently the operational analysis of the specific local energy grid is ongoing in the FV, for all types of energy carriers. In year 2025 detailed energy forecasting and local grid management will be available for early testing.
    Target:
    • Produce a versatile, scalable and interchangeable Digital Twin blueprint for Renewable Energy Valleys.
    • Initiate Digital Twins in multiple sites to support optimal operations.
  • Objective 7

    Enhance security and autonomy of local or regional energy supply in EU Member States in current and future climate conditions through the REFORMERS’ Replication Toolbox

    Description:

    Deliver a user-friendly and practical Energy Valley Replication Toolbox allowing to assess and design roll-out scenarios. Scenarios are essential to identify the best solutions and design a roadmap for future self-sustaining large energy communities. The Replication Toolbox will include all the necessary tools and methods to support regions and local communities transitioning to Renewable Energy Valleys.REFORMERS’ Toolbox will address technical and non-technical aspects:

    • Assessment tools of technological and environmental aspects to achieve decarbonization and self-sustainability.
    • Feasible governance and business models and an assessment of policy and legal aspects to keep alive future energy valleys.
    • Methods to facilitate stakeholder engagement and to run Socio-Economic Impact Assessments to achieve the energy transition.
    Status:

    Different aspects shall be taken into consideration when evaluating different potentials in terms of geography, climate, and natural resources, when designing a LES.

    Target:
    • Increase the readiness, reliability, performance, and affordability of local or regional renewable energy system solutions in Europe.
    • Validate the deployed Replication Toolbox in each RV.

Methodology

REFORMERS wants to demonstrate that highly developed urban and peri-urban regions can be decarbonised completely on a local level without the loss of security-of-supply and at economic competitiveness. This complex challenge, and by extension the whole energy transition, requires systemic innovation.

Read more

REFORMERS 5

Stakeholder engagement

REFORMERS handles a solid inclusion of Social Science and Humanities (SSH) in its approach for social acceptance of its solutions and a large effort is dedicated to this matter through the entire project life cycle. User and stakeholder expectations are carefully gathered and validated in the FV, to ensure the social sustainability of the project outcome. The focus will not only lay on engaging the stakeholders, but also on keeping them ‘aboard’.

Furthermore, REFORMERS’ core idea focuses on bringing together different stakeholders around RE energy projects, using methodologies from the SSH that allow to translate the results of holistic models into usable information for real-life applications.

SSH are essential to investigate the acceptance of local RE projects, as citizens and other stakeholder groups might view them with suspicion and – if not involved by a calibrated engagement approach – can hinder project implementation and threaten the transition to a climate neutral society. A holistic approach which identifies and assesses the mutual influence of governance, business models and legal aspects will be adopted and optimal solutions identified.

Group of researchers discussing energy systems
credits: Rebecca Hueting - copyright REFORMERS 2024

The REFORMERS engagement approach will consider three levels:

  • the ecosystem level
  • the value chain level
  • the actors and stakeholders’ level

Under this approach several methods and tools, based on an intensive dialogue across the FV and RVs, will be built to ensure a practical implementation of the developed framework. Possible samples of these methods and tools could be:

  • Orchestrating Innovation
  • Collaborative Business Modelling
  • Governance Modelling.

Join us

Are you an SME, an NGO, an Energy Community, or another stakeholder and/or you operate in one of the REVs involved in REFORMERS project?
Join us and get the opportunity to meet your peers and other relevant actors in your local renewable-energy value-chain!

join us