Network of Regional Energy System Transition Labs (NoREST)

This new transition initiative Network of Regional Energy System Transition Labs (NoREST) intends to initiate and support the development of a network of regional energy system transition labs. These should develop and validate their tailor-made Integrated Regional Energy System based on real assets in a concrete spatial context into an accelerating and supporting transnational collaboration network.


There is an urgent need for integrated energy systems and a growing need for efficient energy storage, sector coupling, flexibility and increased overall efficiency due to the use of different volatile renewable energy sources.
However, the available technologies and solutions are not yet combined in a meaningful and interoperable way, and regulation and markets are not ready for the implementation of such systems. At the same time, stakeholders, considered to benefit from the new solutions are increasingly interested to see their role and benefits. There is no time to lose to validate and adapt promising approaches to ensure an unerring energy transition. For this, RTDI policies and instruments have an important role to play.


Develop and test solutions in a close to reality energy system of tomorrow

An integral aspect of NoREST's mission is to develop and test solutions within energy systems that closely resemble the reality of tomorrow. An important part of the system integration of energy vectors and available technologies must be implemented on a local and regional level. Therefore, "Integrated Regional Energy Systems” are considered as a "bottom-up” approach to contribute to the transition towards integrated energy systems. Such energy systems link different energy vectors, sectors and infrastructures to organise flexible, resilient systems, based on renewable energy. They intend to facilitate the active participation of businesses and citizens in sustainable regional value chains and supra-regional markets.

The central element of NoREST is to connect need owners with existing initiatives on regional (and possibly national) level. The involvement of need-owners in the innovative design of integrated, regional energy systems plays a key role. Therefore, NoREST Labs provide opportunities for innovators, start-ups, and technology and solution providers to develop, test and validate solutions in a "close to implementation” and "close to an integrated future energy system” environment.

A key prerequisite for success is the intrinsically motivated engagement of local production companies, facilities, infrastructure providers, communities and other relevant "need owners”. These are seen as beneficiaries of these integrated systems and are interested in developing and finally implementing their own, tailor-made solution. For this case, NoREST Labs are considered to provide an ecosystem for co-creation and learning with the "need owning” actors, who need to find their role and benefits in the complex future system. In a regional context, these actors are spatially connected, so that the exchange of energy (e.g., excess heat), values and responsibilities can be organised, contributing to the understanding and acceptance of the new energy system.

The central objective of the NoREST is to provide a significant innovation boost for the energy system transformation in Europe and beyond, by fostering innovation in technology, organisation and transition of energy systems. In the current RDTI environment, it is often difficult to achieve the participation of need owners. This initiative aims to bridge the gap between actual users, existing initiatives, already close to the society and the RDTI community. NoREST Labs are innovation-driven initiatives at regional level, committed to the development of their Integrated Regional Energy System. Innovation-driven initiatives aim to envision, co-create, design, plan and implement such systems in their sphere of influence, while at the same time contributing to the development of the missing technologies and solutions.

 

Planned process to get the initiative started

The key starting point of the Network of Regional Energy System Transition Labs is to reach and involve 'regional actors' who are well connected to regional innovation ecosystems. In the current RDTI environment, stakeholder involvement is often lacking. NoREST’s approach is to build on a group of already established such regional initiatives, considered to be close to the envisaged "system transition?labs” (the "pioneers”). However, the network should also inspire and support more initiatives to grow all over Europe, considered as "followers”.

As a result of the initiative, new types of RDTI projects are expected to emerge that put user needs at the centre. This will lead to the co-creation of system designs, including the appropriate organisation of energy and value exchange, and the generation of transferable knowledge for design and operation, but also for organisational and cultural change. The portfolio and toolbox of research, technological development and innovation is seen as an important means for this approach. Highly effective innovations will be initiated, supported and accelerated in the three dimensions of technology, organisation and transition. Evidence-based knowledge will be produced and shared in these dimensions.

The co-creation process will start immediately by mobilising the relevant multipliers, such as Living Labs and other existing initiatives. In a co-creation event in June 2024, they will jointly develop a vision, a big picture, of how NoRest Labs can create this innovation-friendly environment for need owners. The CETPartnership TRI 5 "Integrated Regional Energy Systems" will then support the emerging initiatives to form appropriate ecosystems and consortia and may then provide funding to support projects for these new initiatives.

If you are interested in joining the new initiative, please join our information webinar on 18 April, 13:30 - 15:00. You can register here.

For more information about the new NoREST initiative, please contact:

Michael Hübner, BMK, Austria                   Angela Berger, BMK/FFG, Austria

Lead                                                                   Co-Lead

E:  michael.huebner@bmk.gv.at                   E: angela.berger@fft.at                       



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The Joint Programming Platfrom Smart Energy Systems receives funding from the European Union´s Horizont 2020 research and innovation program under the grant agreements no. 646039, 775970 and 883973 .
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