Flexgrid, Smart grids industrialisation programme Flexgrid, Smart grids industrialisation programme

FRANCE, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

by: Capenergies cluster, on behalf of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region (Energy cluster & Public authority)

S3 domain:    Energy transition - energy efficiency

Energy topics:    Smart Grids

Innovation type:    Technological    /    System

Level of Good Practice implementation:     Regional 

DESCRIPTION


Flexgrid is a regional programme aimed at the large-scale deployment of smart grids on the territory of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region. With the objective to develop excellence in the smart grids sector at the regional level, in line with the smart specialisation strategy of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in the energy field, it contributes to fostering innovation, supporting economic activity and structuring the ecosystem.

The Flexgrid programme offers regional solutions to energy transition challenges through the development of smart grids technologies and services. It will allow to set-up of a large number of smart grids demonstrators throughout the territory, showcasing innovative solutions that could be replicated worldwide. Its objective is to consolidate the position of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region as a territory of excellence in the smart grids sector, providing new opportunities for local public and private actors and promoting regional innovation and economic growth in this field.

The Flexgrid programme was developed by local and regional authorities, clusters and industries in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region, in response to a national call for expression of interest for smart grids projects launched in April 2015 by the French government, in the framework of the national plan ‘Nouvelle France industrielle’[1]. It started in 2016 and is due to run over a five-year period, until the end of 2020.

Flexgrid is a programme of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region, and is steered and coordinated by Capenergies – the regional energy cluster – on behalf of the regional authority. It involves a large number of local public authorities, clusters and industries (more than 300 companies, notably major industrial groups – including DSOs and TSOs – and innovative SMEs), research centres, universities and technology platforms. Flexgrid plays a significant role in consolidating and structuring the large smart grids ecosystem of the region, as it covers the entire value chain and gathers all types of regional smart grids stakeholders under one single programme.

Stakeholders involved in implementation

  • Public authority
  • Economic and/or innovation agency
  • Research actors
  • Industry
  • SMEs
  • Civil society
  • Other: energy and ICT clusters

Beneficiaries

  • Public authority
  • Research actors
  • Industry
  • SMEs
  • Start-ups
  • Civil society

 

The programme is based on a portfolio of more than 50 projects focusing on a set of energy challenges throughout the whole region, with the aim to tackle a common issue: the need to improve energy flexibility in the region.

Several committees have been put in place to implement and coordinate the Flexgrid programme at the regional level: a strategic committee, an operational committee, a coordination committee, and three local committees covering each of the main geographical areas of the region. In addition, a steering committee is established for each single project of the programme. They all report to the operational committee on a regular basis.

Flexgrid will mobilize more than €150 million of investment from public and private partners (68 % from local and regional investors) to carry out all the smart grids projects dedicated to energy transition and economic development. The funding sources come from private partners, local public authorities, European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF TO1 for research and innovation and TO4 for network infrastructure with 8 M€ specifically dedicated to smart grids projects), or other national (ADEME, PIA) or European (Horizon 2020, Urban Innovative Actions, etc.) funding opportunities.

Public funding sources

  • ESIF T01 (research and innovation)
  • ESIF T04 (low carbon economy)
  • H2020
  • National Funds
  • Local Funds

Results achieved

The results achieved so far are both organizational and strategic: calls for projects have been launched in order to identify local projects to be included in the Flexgrid programme, the set-up of various committees has contributed to an increased coordination and involvement among actors, and the provision of the initial budget has attracted additional public and private investors. All this has reinforced the positive dynamics around the Flexgrid programme. Each project targets specific objectives at local level, which will provide new solutions for increased energy supply security and flexibility: photovoltaic self-production and self-consumption, solutions for high energy consumption companies, synergies between renewable energies, charging and discharging management for electric vehicles, territorial energy optimization and territorial flexibilities. This will allow for the production of 1180 MW of renewable energy and 230 MW for heating and cooling networks. In addition, by supporting the development of the smart grids sector in the region, it should lead to the creation of approximately 6,200 jobs.

Future perspectives

Flexgrid will contribute to reaching the energy targets set out in the 2013 regional energy policy plan - ‘Schéma Régional Air-Energie-Climat’, which will be encompassed in the future ‘Schéma Régional d’Aménagement, de Développement Durable et d’Egalité des Territoires’ (late 2017).

HIGHLIGHTS

The Flexgrid programme plays an instrumental role in structuring the smart grids sector and supporting regional innovative energy solutions, in accordance with the smart specialisation strategy of the Region. The launch of the programme has comforted the position of the smart grids / energy field as a strategic domain of specialisation in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur while developing and exploiting the critical mass of knowledge and economic activity in the region in this field. The ‘regional economic development, innovation and internationalisation strategy’ (SRDEII), recently adopted, reflects this approach: the energy field, and more specifically the smart grids domain, is identified as a strategic sector for the Region.

Most important difficulties

One of the strengths of the Flexgrid programme rests in the fact that it comprises a large number of stakeholders, representing the entire value chain, and covers numerous projects at the local level. Identifying needs, selecting projects, securing funding, and coordinating the whole programme requires a complex implementation strategy.

Lessons learned

The regional dimension of the Flexgrid programme is a determining factor for bringing the whole ecosystem together and covering a wide range of local projects and challenges. It also provides greater visibility for the projects and demonstrators at the national and European levels.

The S3 platform and the S3 Partnership on Smart Grids should be used to present Flexgrid to other European regions, and explain the preparatory process and implementation. Important efforts are made by Flexgrid stakeholders to share experience with foreign partners and attract interests from other EU and third countries (access to demonstrators, showrooms, participation in European events, organization of conferences (ie. “Innovative City” takes place annually in Nice), open-house days, etc).

In addition, the participation of regional actors in European-funded projects (Horizon 2020, ERDF, etc.) also offers good opportunities to share good practices with European partners and communicate/disseminate the results achieved in the framework of the Flexgrid programme.

Type

Flagship project

Strategic programme

Infrastructure

Key actors Platform (for regional cooperation)

Highlights

Relevance to national and/or regional energy strategy

Cross-domain interactions (R&D&I and energy)

Synergetic use of several funds

High impact potential

Leading to private investments