Good practice / The Smart Specialisation Platform on Energy
The Region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA, France) has put in place the Flexgrid programme in line with its Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) to respond to the energy transition challenges through the development of smart grids technologies and services. The programme is based on a portfolio of more than 50 projects focusing on a set of energy challenges that strengthen the region's energy flexibility. It was developed by local and regional authorities, research bodies, clusters and industries (more than 300 companies, including innovative SMEs), and is steered and coordinated by the regional energy cluster (Capenergies) on behalf of the regional authority.
Identifying needs, selecting projects, securing funding, and coordinating the whole programme represented a real challenge as it requires a complex implementation strategy. One key element of the success factor is the structuring of the ecosystem at regional level. Flexgrid covers the entire value chain and gathers all types of regional smart grids stakeholders under one single programme. Several committees are setup to implement and coordinate the programme: a strategic committee, an operational one, a coordination committee, and three local ones. 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. Thus, the smart grids / energy field represents a strategic domain of specialisation in PACA, while developing and benefiting from the region's critical mass of knowledge and economic activity in the field.
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 into one partnership, and the provision of the initial budget has attracted additional public and private investors towards the synergetic use of several funds. Flexgrid will mobilize more than €150 million of investment from public and private partners (68 % from local and regional investors). 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.
In addition, the solutions encountered contribute greatly to fostering innovation and supporting economic activity. 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. It should lead to the creation of approximately 6,200 jobs.