Limerick wins €6.5m smart energy grant

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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nick@limerickleader.ie

Limerick wins €6.5m smart energy grant

Dr Mihai Bilauca, head of digital strategy at council

LIMERICK has been awarded a grant under a European research programme, worth some €6.5m to the city.

The funding has been given under the +CityxChange project, a ‘smart city’ project submitted by a consortium of 32 partners including Limerick City and County Council.

For the next five years, Limerick City along with the city of Trondheim in Norway will work with five other follower cities, Alba Iulia (Romania), Pisek (Czech Republic), Sestao (Spain), Smolyan (Bulgaria) and Voru (Estonia) to develop a series of demonstration projects on how to become ‘smart positive energy’ cities.

Together with all of their citizens, they will develop solutions that will help generate more energy than they consume, and exchange experiences with cities across Europe to learn faster, together.

By winning the grant, Limerick will become the first Irish ‘Lighthouse Smart City’.

Lighthouse cities are ones which develop and test integrated innovative solutions at district scale and act as exemplars for their region and other cities and regions across Europe.

Limerick is the only Irish city to ever receive this prestigious award and €6.5m of the overall funding will go directly to Limerick and its partners.

Dr Mihai Bilauca, head of digital strategy at the council , said: “The +CityxChange is another major step forward as part of our digital strategy for Limerick to become a Smart City Region that is ready for the new energy market and increased use of clean energy for sustainable development of our communities.”

Limerick’s demonstration project will be based in the Georgian innovation district, around the Cecil Street area.

It will be led by Limerick City and County Council and Trondheim Kommune (Norway) and hosted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

The Irish partners include the Limerick Clare Energy Agency, Innovate Limerick, University of Limerick, IES R&D, Smart MPower, ESB Innovation and ESB Networks, Space Engagers, GKinetic Energy Ltd, Future Analytics Consulting.

The focus in Limerick will be on the development of a new "community grid" and the use of smart meters, innovation in new energy sources including hydrokinetic energy and storage, digital tools and citizen participation to create what is called a ‘Positive Energy District’ in Limerick city centre, starting with the Gardens International building and ENGINE training and workspace provided by Innovate Limerick.

A ‘Positive Energy District’ is one that contributes more energy than it consumes.

Rosie Webb, who is leading the project for the council said: “The Georgian Innovation District will enable us to co-create the future we want to live in.”

Mayor James Collins said: "Thinking big, and thinking ahead have helped us turn the Limerick economy into a success story. It’s innovative initiatives like this +CityxChange project which will drive us on to the next level, a beautiful historic riverside city that’s harnessing our natural environment and digital technology to deliver the Limerick of the future, a Limerick that works for everyone."

Contract negotiations will now begin between Limerick and its partners and the project is set to begin in 2019. The final two years involve monitoring and evaluation.