On the 14th of March, more than 50 citizens of Oud-Heverlee participated at the presentation of the H2020 project MUSE GRIDS, which will set up a large-scale pilot project in the neighbourhood to transform it in a local energy community.
MUSE GRIDS is a research project which aims to transform weakly connected areas into local energy communities. And to do so, it will implement two large-scale pilot projects in different European contexts: the Italian city of Osimo and the rural neighbourhood of Oud-Heverlee in Belgium.
The engagement of local communities is paramount for the project: last February it was presented in Osimo, and on the 14th of March it was Oud-Heverlee’s turn!
Organized by the R&D company Th!nk E – the partner of the consortium in charge of coordinating the Oud-Heverlee pilot – the presentation focused on the benefits that the project is meant to provide to the citizens. Cheaper electricity, fewer power outages, a new role for electric cars: all key MUSE GRIDS’ aspects that were discussed in the 3-hour event.
Besides, the importance of a local energy community was particularly stressed. In fact, one of the project’s main objectives is to empower citizens: they can work together with network operators and the government, and play a key role determining how a mutual exchange of energy shall be regulated.
More than 50 people – mostly Oud-Heverlee citizens – came to the event, and apart from the previously mentioned Th!nk E, other project partners also joined: ENGIE Laborelec, Belgian leading research centre in electrical power technology, and the Benelux team of ABB, global leader in industrial technologies including power grids and electrification.
But what are the next steps? First, for the next six weeks, Th!nk E will go from door to door to Oud-Heverlee’s citizens to collect energy bills and system overviews and ask who wants to join the core group of the pilot project. And, on the 17th of April, there will be a first co-creation session with the citizens guided by Imec, Belgian excellence in R&D and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies.
To conclude, the event had an additional, unexpected outcome. A law PhD student from the University of Ghent, working on local energy communities, came to the presentation and decided that he wants to participate in the Muse Grids project! From now on, he will follow the setup and provide advice.