Thanks to the COMPILE Project, Luče, the village in the Savinja Valley, has become the first Slovenian self-sufficient energy community with the possibility of island operation, enabling it to be completely energy self-sufficient for an extensive period of time.
During the Open-Door Day held on 17 September 2021, Slovenian energy company Petrol and its partners, Elektro Celje and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the University of Ljubljana presented how individual technologies are driving the energy self-sufficient community in Luče. In the end, Petrol handed over a fleet of e-cars for pilot use by energy community members as part of the X-Flex Project.
Luče is an idyllic community surrounded by green hills and lush vegetation. Until recently, the community was faced with a problem of a weak power grid, forcing it to find innovative solutions to ensure a more stable electricity supply. Thanks to the European COMPILE Project and partners, it has succeeded. In addition to ensuring a reliable and safe energy supply in the local energy system, the community has contributed to renewable electricity generation, that is, decarbonisation of the energy supply, and positively affected the environment, which was the main objective of the project in addition to generating environmental and socio-economic benefits. In practice, Luče is an answer to the challenges of reaching carbon neutrality.
“The EU is discussing the Fit for 55 package, which is a genuine energy revolution in the E,” said Franc Bogovič, Member of the European Parliament. “Efficient energy use and improved renewable energy generation, electrification of cars and power grid digitalisation and resilience are the key actions to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 55 per cent. The COMPILE Project, co-financed by the EU, and its first self-sufficient community in Luče, is a response to the above-mentioned objectives. As a best practice example, it will benefit many stakeholders.”
The COMPILE Project, which is part of the EU Horizon 2020 program, started at the end of 2018 and is expected to end next year.
“At Petrol, we have adopted an ambitious strategy to become an integrated partner in the energy transition which in practice means that we have taken an active role in increasing energy efficiency and the share of renewable energy sources on the markets where we operate,” commented Jože Bajuk, Petrol’s Management Board Member, mentioning the advantages of the project.
“We do this by implementing many projects and cooperating with different partners,” he continued. “What I believe to be the greatest achievement of all is that through cooperation we have managed to implement such multidisciplinary project which includes and supports renewable energy sources, enables optimal integration and control of all energy factors and a reliable electricity supply, energy storage, and e-mobility. Furthermore, the energy mix will be more diversified in the future and it will depend on user wishes more than on the available sources. This is why electricity production must be provided as close to users as possible since the transfer of energy results in unnecessary loss – Luče is well on the way towards achieving this goal.”
As a society, we will meet EU targets by boosting our energy efficiency and management, as well as by ensuring a better energy mix: an increased share of zero or low emission sources and more solar power plants, heat pumps, energy storage batteries and other solutions. All of this is transforming business models and roles of users in the energy system, with the role of prosumers – energy producers and consumers in one – gaining on importance.
“Cooperation in the COMPILE Project has delivered many benefits to our municipality and the locals,” said Ciril Rosc, Mayor of the Municipality of Luče. “The positive information about the partly self-sufficient local community has reached places far beyond the municipal borders. The previously passive energy consumers have suddenly become active producers which have enhanced not only the self-sufficiency and reliability of renewable electricity supply in this part of the municipality but also the general awareness of the energy and environmental issues and, moreover, it has increased energy efficiency and decreased energy intensity. Indirectly, the project has helped improve neighbourly relations and the economic situation of the local population.”
The COMPILE Project’s vision to integrate all stakeholders into the energy system and create various energy communities supporting the existing central system has enabled the transition from a centralised system to a flexible, yet stable decentralised grid.
“Today we are bombarded with terms such as digitalisation, smart devices, AI, smart data and similar,” added Boris Kupec, Chairman of the Board of Elektro Celje. “In the energy sector, we often encounter terms such as decentralised energy production, energy communities and energy-saving and low-carbon society. At Elektro Celje, we are aware that we live in a time of great change which we deem as an opportunity to develop. The COMPILE Project, which lays a foundation for self-sufficient communities and improved reliability of supply, is a great opportunity for Elektro Celje. It is a hub for state-of-the-art technologies and the best expertise that are further supplemented by mutual cooperation between the industry, distribution companies, and research institutions.”