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Integrated local energy systems (Energy islands): International cooperation with India

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, to optimise their joint operation that is demonstrated by an increased share of renewables in and higher energy efficiency of the local energy system.

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, that also have a high replication potential across Europe and India.

Local consumers, small to medium industrial production facilities and/or commercial buildings should be involved in the projects from the start, preferably by creating energy renewable energy communities[[‘Renewable energy community’ as defined in DIRECTIVE (EU) 2018/2001 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources.]].

In bi-lateral discussions between India and the EU, as well as in several international contexts such as the Mission Innovation initiative launched at COP21, the Clean Energy Ministerial and the International Energy Agency Implementing Agreement on Smart Grids (ISGAN), this topic was identified 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 with India is promoted under this topic.

The cooperation must be under the form of a proposal demonstrating a local energy system (or several local energy systems) in either the EU/Associated Countries or India or both, and through a project work programme with meaningful contributions by entities from the EU/Associated Countries and India.

Mutual learning and extensive exchange between demonstrations in European and Indian contexts is encouraged under this topic. Accordingly, the notion of ‘first application/deployment in the market’ as specified in the definition of an Innovation Action applies reciprocally to India and thus 'first' means new also in India.

For this topic India-based legal entities[[Article 14a of the Horizon 2020 Model Grant Agreement]] in selected proposals have to apply for funding under the Indian co-funding mechanism with the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST)[[https://dst.gov.in/]].

TRL will range between 5 and 8 (see part G of the General Annexes). Proposals will indicate the estimated levels of TRL at the beginning and at the end of the project.

Proposals will include a task on the analysis of obstacles to innovation in both the EU and Indian context 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 as well as with similar India-funded projects. Coordination and synergies will be explored and, if relevant to the project, may be established with the Clean Energy for EU Islands initiative[[https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/energy-strategy-and-energy-union/clean-energy-eu-islands]]. 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.

It is considered that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2.5 to 3.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. This contribution will be combined with a contribution from the Indian DST.

Sharing of Information for the Eligibility Checks and Evaluation:

For applicants from EU and associated countries, the eligibility conditions for Horizon 2020 apply as set out in the General Annexes to the work programme. The eligibility conditions for the Indian applicants will be published in due time by the DST. The eligibility of the applicants will be checked shortly after the closure of the call. For this purpose, the Commission may share a list with project names, proposal numbers and acronyms as well as the names of beneficiaries and international partners per proposal with the DST.

The DST will base their funding decision on the evaluations organised by the European Commission. For this purpose, the Commission may share the evaluation summary reports of all proposals with the DST. Moreover, the evaluation process will be attended by representatives of the DST. The DST representatives will be bound to confidentiality and have declared the absence of any conflict of interest.

Confidential information will only be shared with the DST under a confidentiality agreement.

The fast growth of energy production from renewable energy sources offers new and economically attractive opportunities for decarbonising local energy systems (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 to integrate more renewables, but it is also an opportunity to optimise the electricity system operation in synergy with other energy carriers/vectors to increase the hosting capacity for renewables, not just for electricity but also for heating/cooling, transport and/or industry in a sector coupling approach. Novel approaches to optimize network architecture, planning and development based on the opportunities offered by integrated local energy systems and enabled by digitalisation and power electronics can contribute to addressing the challenge, as can storage of electricity in all energy vectors (e.g. electricity, heating, cooling, water, wastes, etc.), including possibilities offered by batteries and electric vehicles.

Integrated local energy systems can be used to create economically attractive conditions to boost local energy sources and activate local demand-response. Innovative approaches, for example based on Renewable Energy Communities, in line with the recently adopted Renewable Energy Directive (EU) 2018/2001, can result in attractive business cases for local investments in smart integrated energy systems with weakly or non-existing grid connections. At the same time, decarbonisation can go hand-in-hand with the improvement of local air quality and citizens’ engagement.

The supported projects are expected to contribute to all the following impacts:

  • validate solutions for decarbonisation of the local energy system while ensuring a positive impact on the wider energy infrastructure, on the local economy and local social aspects, and local air quality;
  • enhance the involvement of local energy consumers and producers, preferably by creating energy communities in the development and the operation of local energy systems and test new business models;
  • validate approaches, strategies and tools to safely and securely operate an integrated local energy system across energy vectors (electricity, heating, cooling, water, wastes, etc.) so that it is able to integrate higher shares of renewables (than it would in case of separate operation of infrastructures);
  • 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 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. Indicators are expected to have clear and measurable targets.