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March 12, 2024

How Renewable Energy Valley can impact our future?

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The implementation of a local energy system, which shifts energy production from a centralised system to a decentralised system, has been further studied across Europe, and today takes a significant leap forward with its latest initiative on Renewable Energy Valleys (REVs). These valleys stand at the forefront of the green transition, strengthening innovation in renewable energy systems to bolster energy security and independence across Europe. 

REVs are conceptualised as geographical areas where the production and utilisation of renewable energy are maximised through innovative technologies and sustainable infrastructure. These valleys transcend mere energy production sites, evolving into hubs of research and development for innovative technologies which can be implemented in real-world conditions. This innovative approach fosters local economic development and job creation in the renewable energy sector, positioning REVs as sustainable energy ecosystems and global models for the energy transition away from fossil fuels, thus contributing significantly to tackling climate change.

 

From LES to REV: The evolution of Local Energy Systems

The concept of producing energy locally is not new and is already widely adopted at the European scale under the name of Local Energy Systems (LES).

In a Local Energy System, energy is produced close to where it will be used, unlike a centralised energy production system or a national grid where production is centralised. Local generation reduces transmission losses and can adapt to local needs. The system focuses on three steps: generation, storage, and consumption of energy. To optimise energy consumption, visualisation of the consumption or controlled energy consumption is possible.

 

The LES boasts a rich heritage across European countries and beyond, carried out by local communities engaged in the generation of electricity from Renewable Energy Sources (RES), and the operation of communal district heating networks. Nowadays, Europe hosts approximately 3,500 renewable energy cooperatives, a form of energy communities predominantly located in the North-Western region.

Europe’s forthcoming challenge and objective involve not merely the creation of locally managed energy systems but also ensuring these systems adhere to the EU’s predefined sustainability and energy self-sufficiency standards, exclusively utilising renewable energy sources.

 

The REFORMERS projects

At the core of the REFORMERS initiative lies the evolution of Local Energy Systems (LES) into Renewable Energy Villages (REVs) by fully satisfying their yearly local energy requirements through the harnessing of renewable resources. This strategy employs local sources of renewable energy to address the specific needs for heating, cooling, electricity, and mobility. The initiative incorporates the latest in technology for the production, storage, and dissemination of renewable energy, bolstered by innovative algorithms and digital twins, to boost overall performance and broaden the variety of renewable energy options.

The flagship Valley in Alkmaar exemplifies the project’s ambition, striving to meet more than 100% of its energy needs locally and to attain 75% self-sufficiency through effective management of energy demand. Upon the completion of the project, it is expected that consumers will be able to purchase renewable energy at costs below those of current and predicted market prices. This represents a crucial step forward in making renewable energy more economically viable and widely available, thus hastening the shift towards a greener future in Europe.