An ideal location for building out a distributed energy system is likely to be one with well defined geographic boundaries. Add in a wide variety of mostly energy intensive industries and it should make even more sense. This, in essence, was the thinking behind the innovative e-harbours project, which saw seven ports of varying sizes from five European countries around the North Sea participate. Their aims – to increase the production and use of renewable energies, increase the use of smart grids and increase the use of electric vehicles. [Project E-Harbours Brings Smart Energy Benefits To North Sea Harbours]
Such was the potential found in the project that three of the participating cities, Hamburg, Malmö and Zaanstad – which are also three of the major ports in the region – have extended the project with the aim to broaden the base for smart energy solutions by building coalitions with local stakeholders. Importantly beyond the harbours, the municipalities are also actively involved. For example, the municipalities of Malmö and Zaanstad, together with the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, are collecting best practices in order to investigate what works under what conditions, and to provide information to help communities realize local solutions. In Zaanstad, the development of a district heating network for some 10,000 households fuelled by excess heat from local industries is under way. The City of Hamburg has indicated intention to introduce a subsidy to promote industrial demand side flexibility, with €24 million in subsidies expected to bring about investments of more than €120 million in flexible energy systems.
The project findings are widely applicable in other regions and to other, especially industrial, parts of cities. They indicate the important role of forward looking city authorities in driving forward local smart energy solutions. They also indicate the potential for using such developments as a foundation for building out broader smart city solutions.
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