What: Public presentation of the pilot site Luče

Where: Luče, Slovenia

When: 17th September 2021

On Friday, 17 September, the project partners the Faculty of Electrical Engineering from the University of Ljubljana, Petrol and Ideaz Agency held the opening event with the public presentation of Luče, COMPILE project pilot site and the first self-sufficient energy community in Slovenia.

The event was initially planned for spring 2020 when the pilot site became operational but due to the pandemics it was postponed twice. We are glad that it finally happened this autumn and that everyone who we wished to be part of it, joined the event – Luče community members, stakeholders, journalists, general public and everyone else interested.

On the open day, they presented the island mode operation and individual technologies that drive the energy self-sufficiency community in Luče. In the first part of the event, there was a workshop held for members of the energy community and interested stakeholders. Later on, the technical solutions were showcased and explained.

The key outcomes of the Luče pilot site are more efficient management and operation of the low-voltage network, improvement of network reliability and thus increase of self-sufficiency. Although the pilot site is already fully operational, further development is limited due to current legislation. Namely, all members of the community must have the same supplier and they must be connected to the same transformer station. The proposal of the new law thus includes the abolition of annual net metering, eliminates the restriction to the same transformer station, introduces payment of surplus of the energy transmitted to the network and the possibility of including devices that are in the support scheme.

As this is a pilot project, the project partners constantly monitor and optimize the operation of the energy community as it faces many challenges, for example, community self-sufficiency is still more complex than individual self-sufficiency, multi-apartment buildings also require almost three times as much documentation and obtaining various consents can be very time-consuming due to various consents that need to be obtained. Despite many challenges, there are also opportunities for the future. Among others, it is possible to collectively invest in larger solar power plants on public buildings for a better return on investment, the potential of solar power plants with a feed-in tariff that will expire soon and new research and industrial projects, especially in the field of energy communities in residential areas and e-mobility.

As part of the presentation of the self-sufficiency energy community, the event was joined by prominent members of some project partners and supporters of the project. The audience was addressed by the mayor of the Municipality of Luče, Mr. Ciril Rosc, who has been supporting the project from the very beginning. He emphasized that the project had brought quite a few benefits to both the municipality and the participating citizens, and in addition to self-sufficiency and reliability of energy supply, neighbourly relations had also improved. Assoc. Prof. Andrej Gubina, Head of the Laboratory of Energy Policy from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, the University of Ljubljana, coordinator of the COMPILE project, pointed out that the energy community in Luče serves as a model example of cooperation between community members, municipality, advanced Slovenian companies with Petrol at the head and the University of Ljubljana. Mr. Boris Kupec, President of the Management Board of DSO Elektro Celje, added that Luče serves as an interface between the latest technologies and state-of-the-art knowledge, which is being further enriched by the cooperation of industry, distribution companies and research institutions. That Luče in practice offers an answer to the challenges of achieving carbon neutrality was pointed out by Mr. Franc Bogovič, the Member of the European Parliament, who launched the initiative of a smart village for rural development at the European level. Mr. Jože Bajuk, a member of the Petrol Management Board, also spoke about the advantages of the project. His opinion is that it is necessary to bring energy production as close as possible to the consumers, as energy transmission causes unnecessary losses.

In the last and the most practical part of the event, all the visitors were able to get to know a smart village and the technologies in place – from solar power plants, house and community batteries to EV charger. The solutions and services developed within the COMPILE project will be integrated into other pilot locations across the EU. The work is already continuing with the X-FLEX project, which focuses on flexible energy management in the power system, with the aim of greater stability and security of supply in normal working conditions and extreme weather conditions. As part of this project, Petrol has provided electric cars, which will be used free of charge by members of the energy community for one week, thus enabling them to test the operation of e-charging stations with regular use in practice.

A short video from the event is available here.

Thank you to all the partners, collaborators and curious visitors for making this event happen!