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News announcement8 July 2022Joint Research Centre

Magliano Alpi: a peek at the energy communities of the future (video interview)

The JRC has been assisting Italy’s first-of-a-kind energy community with data, know-how, and simulation capacity.

Smart energy communities of the future
In energy communities members are actively involved in the energy system at the local level and can become prosumers
© EU 2022

During the Covid 19-induced lockdown in 2020, many of us were busy trying to bake sourdough bread and ordering yoga mats. Marco Bailo, the mayor of Magliano Alpi, a commune of 2200 inhabitants in Italy’s Piedmont region, had a different idea. Putting his background as an architect to good use, he built Italy’s first renewable energy community. 

He began by installing solar panels on the roof of the town hall, inviting citizens who live nearby to consume the produced energy. The eventual surplus electricity was fed into the grid, while the community was financially incentivised to generate and consume renewable energy locally.

This was quickly followed by a photovoltaic system in the football-field changing-room building, creating a second energy community in the area.

Mayor Bailo was inspired by the manifesto on energy communities written by Professor Sergio Olivero of the Polytechnic University of Turin. In energy communities members are actively involved in the energy system at the local level and can become prosumers, simultaneous producers and consumers of electricity.

Collaboration with the Smart Grid Interoperability Lab in Ispra

Despite the huge potential in the enterprise, some technical challenges came up, such as understanding the potential demand volume and timings, tracking the data correctly, or making sure that adequate communication technologies are in place to connect the community members.

For this, the renewable energy community teamed up, via the Erigrid 2.0 project’s Transnational Laboratory Access programme, with the JRC’s Smart Grid Interoperability Laboratory in Ispra, Italy. The lab employs leading experts in applying digital technologies to smart energy solutions. Such a solution is a tool to forecast shared renewable energy generation. Computational models that can simulate future energy demand can help us understand the effect on medium to long-term effects of widening renewable energy communities.

Creating more of such communities, as envisaged in the European Commission’s Clean energy for all Europeans package from 2019, can drive the green transition forward, improve energy security, contribute to the stability of the grid, and help alleviate today’s skyrocketing energy prices.

Watch our video

Watch our video, in which Mayor Bailo, Professor Olivero, and JRC expert Antonio De Paola discuss the early days of the Magliano Alpi energy community, as well as the challenges and opportunities that arose with it.

Magliano Alpi: a dive into the energy communities of the future
EC, 2022

 

 

Details

Publication date
8 July 2022
Author
Joint Research Centre