The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded a grant worth € 375,000 to the University of Groningen and the University of Twente for research into the technological and social potential of local sustainable energy systems. Two concrete technological innovations are at the heart of this research, both of them new, innovative, sustainable forms of local energy storage: the environmentally friendly sea salt battery developed by the Dr Ten company, and a smart thermal storage system developed by Ecovat.
One of the issues being addressed concerns the technologies that Dutch energy cooperatives use and perhaps even modify to realize their sustainability and autonomy ambitions. As the Dutch initiatives like Ecovat are very recent, a comparison will be made with similar Dutch collectives which operated in the past. In addition, the study will try to discover what can be learned from strategies deployed by Danish, German and other European energy cooperatives, for example the Danish island Samsø.
Growth of local energy cooperatives
The recent emergence of local energy cooperatives is an important social innovation which will cause drastic changes in the landscape of sustainable energy development. This research project looks into improving the ways that these local initiatives tie in with technological energy innovations. Mutual synchronization is essential to reinforce the role of decentralized energy systems during the transition to a sustainable society.
The multidisciplinary study is based on historical, socio-scientific and applied natural-scientific strategies. It will be carried out by the Science & Society Group of the University of Groningen and the Science, Technology & Society Studies group of the University of Twente, in association with Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, the Energy Academy Europe in Groningen, researchers from the Green Energy Initiative and the companies mentioned above. Other parties with an interest in introducing local sustainable energy will also be actively involved in the project. These include energy cooperatives, government bodies, environmental federations and the companies Enexis, PvD IMC and De Klerk Media.
The project wants to lay the foundations for a sustainable society that creates more room for local initiatives and innovative technology. One of the aims is to develop scenarios for local sustainable energy that to some extent tie in with the existing energy systems. We are convinced that the technology of Ecovat can contribute to these goals and looking forward to the results of this research.
Source: University of Groningen