Petrol and partners present Luče, the first self-sufficient energy community in Slovenia
Achieving a carbon neutral future is easier in cooperation with partners. Thanks to the COMPILE Project, Luče, the village in the Savinja Valley, has become the first Slovenian self-sufficient energy community with possibility of island operation, enabling it to be completely energy self-sufficient for extensive period of time. During the Open-Door Day held on Friday, 17 September 2021, Petrol and its partners, Elektro Celje and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the University of Ljubljana, presented how its works, that is, the island operation and individual technologies driving the energy self-sufficient community in Luče. On event conclusion, Petrol handed over a fleet of e-cars for pilot use by energy community members as part of the X-Flex Project.
Luče is an idyllic community surrounded by green hills and lush vegetation. Until recently, the community was faced with a problem of a weak power grid, forcing it to find innovative solutions to ensure a more stable electricity supply. Thanks to the European COMPILE Project and partners, it has succeeded. In addition to ensuring a reliable and safe energy supply in the local energy system, the community has contributed to renewable electricity generation, that is, decarbonisation of the energy supply, and positively affected the environment, which was the main objective of the project in addition to generating environmental and socio-economic benefits.
In practice, Luče is an answer to the challenges of reaching carbon neutrality. The EU aims to be carbon-neutral by 2050. Franc Bogovič, Member of the European Parliament, said: “The EU is discussing the Fit for 55 package, which is a genuine energy revolution in the EU. Efficient energy use, and improved renewable energy generation, electrification of cars, and power grid digitalisation and resilience are the key actions to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 55%. The COMPILE Project, co-financed by the EU, and its first self-sufficient community in Luče, is a response to the abovementioned objectives. As a best practice example it will benefit many stakeholders. Congratulation to all project partners – Petrol, Elektro Celje, Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the University of Ljubljana, project initiator Rok Suhadolnik, Mayor Ciril Rosc and the Luče residents for fully committing yourselves to the project and showing in practice what the transition to a low-carbon society really means.”
The COMPILE Project, which is part of the EU Horizon 2020 program, started at the end of 2018 and is expected to end next year. On this occasion, Jože Bajuk, Petrol’s Management Board Member, spoke about the advantages of the project: “At Petrol, we have adopted an ambitious strategy to become an integrated partner in the energy transition which in practice means that we have taken an active role in increasing energy efficiency and the share of renewable energy sources on the markets where we operate. We do this by implementing many projects and cooperating with different partners. What I believe to be the greatest achievement of all is that through cooperation we have managed to implement such multidisciplinary project which includes and supports renewable energy sources, enables optimal integration and control of all energy factors and a reliable electricity supply, energy storage, and e-mobility. Furthermore, the energy mix will be more diversified in the future and it will depend on user wishes more than on the available sources. This is why electricity production must be provided as close to users as possible, since the transfer of energy results in unnecessary loss – Luče is well on the way towards achieving this goal.”
As a society, we will meet EU targets by boosting our energy efficiency and management, as well as by ensuring a better energy mix: an increased share of zero or low emission sources and more solar power plants, heat pumps, energy storage batteries, and other solutions. All of this is transforming business models and roles of users in the energy system, with the role of prosumers – energy producers and consumers in one – gaining on importance. Ciril Rosc, Mayor of the Municipality of Luče, proudly spoke up and said: “Cooperation in the COMPILE Project has delivered many benefits to our municipality and the locals. The positive information about the partly self-sufficient local community has reached places far beyond the municipal borders. The previously passive energy consumers have suddenly become active producers which has enhanced not only the self-sufficiency and reliability of renewable electricity supply in this part of the municipality but also the general awareness of the energy and environmental issues and, moreover, it has increased energy efficiency and decreased energy intensity. Indirectly, the project has helped improve neighbourly relations and the economic situation of the local population.“
The COMPILE Project’s vision to integrate all stakeholders into the energy system and create various energy communities supporting the existing central system has enabled the transition from a centralised system to a flexible, yet stable decentralised grid. Boris Kupec, Chairman of the Board of Elektro Celje said that “today we are bombarded with terms such as digitalisation, smart devices, AI, smart data, and similar. In the energy sector, we often encounter terms such as decentralised energy production, energy communities, and energy saving and low-carbon society,“ and continued: “At Elektro Celje, we are aware that we live in a time of great change which we deem as an opportunity to develop. The COMPILE Project, which lays a foundation for self-sufficient communities and improved reliability of supply, is a great opportunity for Elektro Celje. It is a hub for state-of-the-art technologies and the best expertise that are further supplemented by mutual cooperation between the industry, distribution companies, and research institutions. The icing on the cake, however, is the international character of the projects, as they enable the flow of priceless experience and expertise in both ways, which in a way is a synonym for dispersed generation and consumption of electricity in the distribution system. The possibility to improve the power supply reliability using energy storage batteries represents the first solution of this kind in Slovenia and it fully corresponds to Elektro Celje’s mindset, as we want to provide our users with cost-effective and top-quality services.”
Based on managing individual facilities and the energy community as a whole, production from solar power plants for energy community members exceeded the one initially enabled by the grid by three fold. During the public presentation of its operation, a workshop was organised for the energy community members and interested stakeholders, whereas the central part of the event was focused on the island operation of the community, including the battery. “Thanks to the well thought-out combination of production resources – rooftop photovoltaic power stations, flexible consumers, local energy storage batteries and the community battery – and the advanced management of the entire system, it is distinguished by its ability to ensure supply even in the case of medium voltage grid outages. The operation of a technologically advanced energy community will help improve the quality of life in this remote village; an important contribution is the experience of the locals – energy community members who pilot-test various operation regimes and scenarios of technology use and cooperation methods in everyday life supported by the tools developed in the COMPILE project. The self-sufficient energy community in Luče is an example of cooperation between community members, the wider local community, advanced Slovenian companies with Petrol as the leader, and the University of Ljubljana, and it sets an example of best practices in the European and international terms,“ pointed out Andrej Gubina, Head of the Laboratory of Power Systems at the University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering and a Lead Coordinator of the COMPILE Project. Other project results include the local community’s increased interest in the energy sector, renewable energy generation, and environmental protection.
More about the COMPILE Project
COMPILE project is a product of Slovenian know-how. In the context of the European project, the developed solutions and services will be integrated into other pilot sites in the European Union. The story continues with the X-Flex Project, which is focused on flexible energy management in the power system to enhance the stability and reliability of supply under normal conditions and during extreme weather conditions. In the context of this project, Petrol has provided electric cars which energy community members can use free of charge for one week to test how e-charging points function in practice. Petrol is developing services related to new mobility concepts and types such as e-mobility and “vehicle-as-service”. Since transport delivers significant negative impacts on the environment, especially with greenhouse gas emissions, any progress in this field is priceless. We expect the road traffic electrification and its efficiency to accelerate in the coming years. To this end, a network of public and private charging points is being built throughout Slovenia and region-wide, integrating them into a growing European e-charging point network