Participants: The Municipality of Zwevegem, Intercommunal Organisation Leiedal and the Province of West-Flanders
Transfo Zwevegem, a former electricity power plant, stopped its production since 2001. From then on, the site was abandoned. The Municipality of Zwevegem became owner of the site and since then, three partners (the municipality of Zwevegem, intercommunal organisation Leiedal and the Province of West-Flanders), combined powers to reform the entire site: buildings were restored and new partners were engaged to give the site a new meaningful function.
The process took place according to the Transfo A-B-C-D-E principle: Adventure, Business, Culture, Duurzaamheid (Sustainability), Energy education. The first three were first developed. ‘Energy’ was, and still is, incorporated in the site’s DNA, the partnership is now developing a ‘futureproof sustainability and renewable energy’ dimension to the reformation. The D&E – part of the site is developed by two European projects:
EMPOWER2.0 (Interreg NSR): was the starting point of the development of a smart grid with limited storage capacity on the Transfo site. Empower2.0 put the right stakeholders around the table to develop the energy concept with citizen and stakeholder involvement, and in the light of the EU legislation on energy communities. The partners started a series of mutual organised activities to build up a community feeling at the site Storage capacity and production capacity on site level are prepared. The project will focus on demo-installations of storage and the storytelling of the urgency of energy transition, persuading a broad public to actively participate in the quickly changing energy market.
RE/SOURCED (EU Urban Innovative Actions-program). Within this program, the partners want to develop a new kind of (micro)grid: renewable energy production and storage are to be connected through a DC –grid, which in its turn is connected to the low voltage AC-grid. In the first stage, people on site get the opportunity of forming a local energy community. Furthermore a visitor trail with several installations will be developed. These interactive installations are to explain the principles of energy production/ distribution/storage and the role energy played in the human development in history (heritage), present and future. Within this site-levelled concept the intention is to experiment with investing in renewable energy and its effect on various factors such as the energy bill, … .
With EMPOWER 2.0, the partners want to install a demonstrative CHP installation. CHP-technologies can play an essential role in the story of energy transition. The erratic way of generating energy via solar panels and wind turbines must be harmonized and balanced. And the usage of a CHP could be the way to do this.
Apart from production and storage of renewables, the project also initiated the development of a smart grid, smart energy usage/users and start up of a smart energy management system. This is done via engaging and enthuse the partners, houseowners, offices, … on site in rational use of energy, but also by activating them to participate in a ‘Transfo–Cooperative’.
Next to that, an educational tool will be developed to valorise the workings of the grid, and the knowledge that has been built up will be used to further develop the site.
At the end of the D & E - project, there will be a (technical) fully operational (DC/AC) microgrid, with renewable energy of wind and sun and storage with different types of batteries. The site has a variety of participants (diving tank, brewery, climbing hall, event location, …). The grid (and its legal context) will function as a living lab.
All of the ‘functional’ energy infrastructure (production, storage, distribution) on site level and the formation of the Transfo-cooperative will be financed through ‘ReSourced’, an Urban Innovative Actions-approved project. Whereas EMPOWER 2.0 will focus on the demo-installations and storytelling of the need of the energy transition towards a broad public by developing a proof of concept on a micro-level.
In the upcoming paragraphs, the story of the site-levelled development will be told, keeping in mind, that, though the development on site level will not be funded by NSR, its lessons learned and activism of energy users can be captured and told as a story within the infrastructure that will be developed within Empower2.0.
A hydrogen battery (H2) was researched, but deemed not to be feasible within the project framework.
Combined Het and Power production installation (CHP), including a thermal buffer for creating flexibility in both electricity supply and heat supply.
Re-using the former water tower as a battery. When there is more energy than consumption, the water in a below basin will be pumped up and when there is need for energy, the water will go back downstairs and make energy through a turbine. This will mainly function as an educational demo-installation.
Re-using one of the original ventilators as a demo-‘flywheel : for now, we are investigating whether the fans, which were previously used to drive the flue gases from the boilers through the chimney, can be reused as a demonstration model of energy storage with flywheel technology. This will also mainly function as an educational demo-installation.