The Lightness project, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, aims to empower citizens to generate, share and sell renewable energy to contribute to making the European energy sector more sustainable and democratic. To deliver on this ambition, the project focuses on four key working areas: developing innovative business models; developing a low-cost technological package; social engagement; and defining a regulatory roadmap.
As one of the technology partners supporting the Lightness project, IES are involved in developing a holistic Citizen Energy Community (CEC) simulation tool. This solution will leverage IES’ existing digital twin technology – the Intelligent Communities Lifecycle (ICL) – to enable sustainability analysis of the participating communities.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, a digital twin is essentially a virtual replica of a physical component or entity and the dynamics of that component or entity. This live digital twin gathers real-world data and produces accurate simulations to create a data-rich, living, breathing 1:1 model that behaves in the same way as its real-world counterpart. This means a digital twin can have many useful applications in the community context, covering everything from: the assessment of energy conservation measures; balancing of local energy networks and renewables; continuous performance monitoring, fault detection and maintenance planning; and testing of new ideas or “what if” scenarios, all in a virtual environment.
The IES digital twin takes account of local weather data, future climate predictions and the existing energy infrastructure to help produce accurate insights into community sustainability performance and make future predictions concerning the impact of various CEC implementation scenarios to identify the optimal scenario based on community preferences and limitations.
The low-cost CEC tool developed will ultimately provide a citizen-friendly, interactive, 3D community information model with dashboards to communicate various energy, sustainability and socio-economic KPIs. Helping the community understand their energy interactions and improvement options to help support better informed decision-making. The technology package will therefore be crucial in helping citizen communities play an active role in the energy transition, while also benefitting from the additional economic, social, and environmental benefits that digital solutions can help them uncover.
The solution will be deployed and tested across five pilot sites across Europe to demonstrate the suitability of the tool in the context of different legal and market frameworks and climate zones, also paying consideration to the current utilisation of renewable resources, environmental awareness of citizens, and the current financial schemes or incentives available within each region.