The 9 Parties in the European innovation program REnnovates, including 3 Belgian, Vito, Belfius and Enervalis, announced on Tuesday 28 August the results of their Horizon 2020 study.

REnnovates studied the possibilities of transforming existing residential districts into energy-neutral smart grids. The results came from the transformation of 249 existing rental properties to smart zero-on-the-meter homes. The final report was presented to the European Commission, the Dutch minister Eric Wiebes and the Flemish minister Bart Tommelein during a symposium in Homestudio’s – the BAM Experience Center in Utrecht.

‘The most important conclusion from our research is that smart, energy-neutral neighborhoods are technically possible. With adapted legislation and regulations that provide flexible energy prices, our business case can be made positive’, says Dennis van Goch, Innovation Project Manager at BAM. ‘We can also significantly increase our contribution to the energy transition if we succeed in our ambition to expand the REnnovates concept on a European scale. The first initiatives have already been taken in Belgium, Spain and Poland. ‘

Low-carbon society

This ambition is underwritten by the Flemish vice-minister-president and Minister of Energy Bart Tommelein: ‘Renovations that lead to an energy-neutral residential district, are the turnaround to a low-carbon society. It is a challenge we all face in Europe. Member States should better exchange great examples like REnnovates. The sooner we reach a low-carbon society, the better. ”

Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Eric Wiebes indicated that REnnovates has shown that energy-neutral on the scale of a district is possible: ‘We are at the beginning of the learning curve. By bringing initiatives like these together and stimulating innovation, we’ll make the Netherlands more sustainable, neighborhood by neighborhood. ‘

Smart neighborhoods

Since the start of REnnovates in 2015, 249 existing dwellings in Heerhugowaard, Soesterberg/Soest and Woerden have been transformed into gasless zero-on-the-meter homes. The almost obsolete dwellings are now part of a smart neighborhood in which energy is used as efficiently and effectively as possible. In addition to solar panels and heat pumps, home batteries and a neighborhood battery (Woerden) are also in use. By smart control of the heat pumps and peakshaving with batteries, it is possible for the Grid Operator to minimize or even prevent costly investments in the electricity grid.

Involvement of residents

REnnovates emphatically focuses on the involvement of the residents. The monitoring of the zero-on-the-meter homes is designed in such a way that the resident has a better understanding of all energy flows. The involvement of the residents is crucial for making comfortable, healthy, sustainable and affordable living feasible.