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Integrated local energy systems (Energy islands): International cooperation with India, ID: LC-SC3-ES-13-2020
Specific Challenge:
The fast growth of energy production from renewable energy sources offers new and economically attractive opportunities for decarbonising local energy systems (e.g. isolated villages, small cities, urban districts, rural areas with weak or non-existing grid connections). It is also a technological and financial challenge for the electricity network to integrate more renewables, but it is also an opportunity to optimise the electricity system operation in synergy with other energy carriers/vectors to increase the hosting capacity for renewables, not just for electricity but also for heating/cooling, transport and/or industry in a sector coupling approach. Novel approaches to optimize network architecture, planning and development based on the opportunities offered by integrated local energy systems and enabled by digitalisation and power electronics can contribute to addressing the challenge, as can storage of electricity in all energy vectors (e.g. electricity, heating, cooling, water, wastes, etc.), including possibilities offered by batteries and electric vehicles.
Integrated local energy systems can be used to create economically attractive conditions to boost local energy sources and activate local demand-response. Innovative approaches, for example based on Renewable Energy Communities, in line with the recently adopted Renewable Energy Directive (EU) 2018/2001, can result in attractive business cases for local investments in smart integrated energy systems with weakly or non-existing grid connections. At the same time, decarbonisation can go hand-in-hand with the improvement of local air quality and citizens' engagement.

Proposals will develop and demonstrate solutions which analyse and combine, in a well delimited system, all the energy vectors that are present and interconnect them, where appropriate, to optimise their joint operation that is demonstrated by an increased share of renewables in and higher energy efficiency of the local energy system.
Proposals should present a preliminary analysis of the local case as part of the content of the proposal and propose to develop solutions and tools for the optimisation of the local energy network, that also have a high replication potential across Europe and India.

Local consumers, small to medium industrial production facilities and/or commercial buildings should be involved in the projects from the start, preferably by creating energy renewable energy communities.
In bi-lateral discussions between India and the EU, as well as in several international contexts such as the Mission Innovation initiative launched at COP21, the Clean Energy Ministerial and the International Energy Agency Implementing Agreement on Smart Grids (ISGAN), this topic was identified as being of common interest owing to its potential for decarbonisation. In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation with India is promoted under this topic.

The cooperation must be under the form of a proposal demonstrating a local energy system (or several local energy systems) in either the EU/Associated Countries or India or both, and through a project work programme with meaningful contributions by entities from the EU/Associated Countries and India.

Mutual learning and extensive exchange between demonstrations in European and Indian contexts is encouraged under this topic. Accordingly, the notion of 'first application/deployment in the market' as specified in the definition of an Innovation Action applies reciprocally to India and thus 'first' means new also in India.

Proposals will include a task on the analysis of obstacles to innovation in both the EU and Indian context and foresee the coordination on policy relevant issues (e.g. regulatory framework, business models, data management, consumer engagement) with similar EU-funded projects through the BRIDGE initiative as well as with similar India-funded projects. Coordination and synergies will be explored and, if relevant to the project, may be established with the Clean Energy for EU Islands initiative. An indicative budget share of at least 2% is recommended for the research work associated with these issues and an additional 2% for the coordination effort.

Expected Impact:
The supported projects are expected to contribute to all the following impacts:
- validate solutions for decarbonisation of the local energy system while ensuring a positive impact on the wider energy infrastructure, on the local economy and local social aspects, and local air quality;
- enhance the involvement of local energy consumers and producers, preferably by creating energy communities in the development and the operation of local energy systems and test new business models;
- validate approaches, strategies and tools to safely and securely operate an integrated local energy system across energy vectors (electricity, heating, cooling, water, wastes, etc.) so that it is able to integrate higher shares of renewables (than it would in case of separate operation of infrastructures);
- benchmark technical solutions and business models that can be replicated in many local regions and that are acceptable by local citizens.
- Proposals are invited to include ad-hoc indicators to measure the progress against specific objectives of their choice that could be used to assess the progress during the project life. Indicators are expected to have clear and measurable targets.

Further information: