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Smart Cities and Communities solutions integrating energy, transport, ICT sectors through lighthouse (large scale demonstration - first of the kind) projects

Specific Challenge: The EU policy and regulatory framework in the sectors of energy, transport and ICT supports the development of sectoral solutions, i.e. solutions with a limited degree of integration. However, for successful and accelerated implementation in real environments such as urban ones - that also have to take into account local specificities the test of integrated measures will pave the way for faster market roll-out of technologies. The key challenges for Smart Cities and Communities are to significantly increase the overall energy efficiency of cities, to exploit better the local resource both in terms of energy supply as well as through the demand side measures. This will imply the use of energy efficiency measures optimising at the level of districts, the use of renewables, the sustainability of urban transport and the needed drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas - within economically acceptable conditions - while ensuring for citizens better life conditions: lower energy bills, swifter transport, job creation and as a consequence a higher degree of resilience to climate impacts (e.g. urban heat islands effects) etc.

Scope:To identify, develop and deploy replicable, balanced and integrated solutions in the energy, transport, and ICT actions through partnerships between municipalities and industries.

These solutions at the intersection of the three sectors will have a holistic approach and are still facing first mover risk. These will be the lighthouse projects as identified by the Communication on Smart Cities and Communities. Lighthouse projects will target primarily large scale demonstration of replicable SCC concepts in city context where existing technologies or very near to market technologies (TRL 7 and more, see part G of the General Annexes) will be integrated in an innovative way.

The proposals should address the following main areas:

         (Nearly zero) or low energy districts: through the integration and management of: i) the supply of energy with predominant exploitation of local resources (e.g. waste heat, renewables, storage) and the active participation of consumers (e.g. use of aggregators); ii) the cost-effective refurbishment of existing buildings without significant disruption for tenants (use of sustainable materials) with a special focus on residential buildings  iii) the cross-cutting ICT solutions for the design and overall management of energy/ transport systems  

         Integrated Infrastructures: through the integration of physical infrastructures such as core networks, street scenes, lighting, industrial sites etc to create new forms of value through re-use and repurposing. This should lead to quantifiable benefits such as reduction of capital /operational expenditure as well as reduced carbon / energy footprints. This might also imply exploitation of synergies between requirements for smart grids, broadband infrastructures and in general poly networks (e.g. district heating and cooling).

         Sustainable urban mobility: through the integration of energy/ fuelling infrastructure with vehicle fleets powered by alternative energy carriers for public and private transport, including logistics and freight-distribution. Implications on energy management, and in the case of electromobility, the impact on the electricity grid, of the deployment of high numbers of vehicles and/or the alternative fuel blends performance must be assessed. 

The proposed proposals should address in addition to the main areas presented above a strategy that addresses appropriate enabler actions to support the commercial exploitation of the proposal. This includes (indicative list): commitment of authorities (even if changes of politicians/ majority, in the course of the project); citizens' engagement and empowerment; optimising policy and regulatory frameworks; open, consistent data and performance measurements; dissemination and unlocking the market potentials worldwide.

According to the Communication on Smart Cities and Communities the light house projects should look for creating partnerships between industries, academics and cities, empower citizens and ensure the replicability of the solutions, ensure the funding from various sources[1].

Therefore each project should:

  • Be realised in 2 – 3 cities or communities (light house cities or communities);
  • include industry, city planning authorities which should also reflect the view of the consumer organisations, research community, local Small and Medium Size Companies (SMEs);
  • In addition each project should co-involve 2 - 3 follower cities i.e. cities willing to contribute to the process though the replication of solutions at the end of the project and having access to the knowhow and results of the project and a privileged contact with the project's partners. The involvement of the follower cities should be relevant (e.g. participating in definition of user requirements and methodology of transferability of solutions, data collection etc.).  The follower cities should aim at improving their energy performance or the share of use of renewables (e.g. 60% reduction of primary energy for buildings, 20 - 30 % RES use for electricity as well as for heating and cooling). EU geographical coverage conditions should be also applied. The quality of the work programme of follower cities will be part of the overall evaluation.
  • Ensure that all proposed activities are a part of ambitious urban plan. These activities should also lead to the development of integrated urban plans. For the lighthouse cities or communities these plans should be finalised before submission of the proposal (e.g. those compiled for the Covenant of Mayors, Sustainable Energy Action Plans, plans committed under the Green Digital Charter etc., but without limiting to this list of initiatives). The urban plan shall integrate buildings planning, energy networks, ICT, transport/mobility planning; additional issues may be addressed as well if relevant for the city. These plans shall be submitted with the proposal as a supporting document(s).
  • In order to ensure the success of the lighthouse projects, the funding for the other parts of the programme or initiative in which the lighthouse projects are embedded should be secured from other sources, preferably private ones, but also other EU funding sources (European Structural and Investment (ESI) funds for example), national or regional funding.
  • Projects should demonstrate and validate attractive business plans that allow large scale replication of fast economic recovery in cities of varying degrees of economic conditions (from very poor to very rich), varying sizes but significant urban areas  and varying climatic conditions to ensure high impact and replication potential.
  • The industrial partners and municipality authorities should engage in replicating successful demonstration in their own and other cities, notably 'follower cities'; the replication plans are compulsory and are part of the evaluation.
  • Consortia must have a clearly defined structure with roles and responsibilities properly spelled out for all involved entities for lighthouse cities and for follower cities.

Besides economic sustainability, proposals must also commit to scientific and technical requirements in support to reliability:

  • Open and consistent data and interoperability of solutions in order to avoid locked –in customers.
  • Contribution to common data collection systems (e.g. as those developed by European Commission under SCC2 of this Work Programme), measurement and disclosure methodology, in order to facilitate a common footprint calculation methodology and other metrics (especially for energy saving; CO2 reductions, financial savings, number of jobs created, environmental impact etc.).
  • The performance monitoring should last for a period of at least 2 years. Longer term commitment (e.g. 5 years) will give an added value to the proposal. Consortia should develop an integrated protocol for monitoring energy, infrastructure, mobility and governance practices in the lighthouse projects, enabling documentation of improved performance over short and long term periods. The monitoring protocol should be robust and viable also after the end of the project, supporting and increasing municipal capacity over time Participants may be asked to introduce performance data into existing data bases (e.g. CONCERTO technical monitoring data base).

The grant will be composed of a combination of the reimbursement of eligible costs, and flat rate financing determined on the basis of unit costs[2] only for the building-related demonstration activities.

The building components of the proposals will be supported through the unit cost/m⊃2;.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 18 to 25 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

The proposals are expected to have the impacts described below:

  • deploy wide-scale, innovative replicable and integrated solutions in the energy, transport, and ICT;
  • trigger large scale economic investments with the repayment of implementation costs in acceptable time lines (to facilitate the bankability of the projects);
  • increase the  energy efficiency of districts and of cities and foster the use of renewables and their integration energy system and enable active participation of consumers;
  • increase mobility efficiency with lower emissions of pollutants and CO2;
  • reduce the energy costs;
  • decarbonise the energy system while making it more secure and stable;
  • create stronger links between cities in Member States with various geographical and economical positions through active cooperation.

It is envisaged that the proposals will also bring societal benefits:

  • reduction of energy bills for all actors and especially for citizens and public authorities;
  • Increase quality of life by creating  local jobs (that cannot be delocalised) in cities;
  • Increase air quality.

Type of action: Innovation Actions

[1] C(2012)4701 final

[2] The unit costs for the Energy societal challenge actions have been established in line with the methodology set up by the Commission Decision n° C(2013)8196.