The SOLENN smart grid project was set up to test electricity demand management and power supply security solutions by involving local community stakeholders.
The SOLENN project has aimed to provide a local solution to two of the challenges addressed by the Breton Electricity Pact, i.e. electricity demand management and power supply security enhancement. It has also led to improvements in energy data use, in particular regarding data transfer consent and public awareness. It involved 900 households over a period of 4 years in two local authorities in the Lorient urban district. Various solutions were developed and trialled with the participating households:
- individual household information and advice and group sessions, organized by the ALOEN (Local energy agency for Southern Brittany) on optimizing energy use;
- the use of smart devices to monitor household electricity consumption, by types of use;
- web sites to help people follow aggregate energy use, based on Linky smart electricity meter readings;
Twelve partners, each with their own fields of expertise, were involved in the project: power grid operators (Enedis, RTE), local authorities (Lorient Agglomération, the Brittany Regional Council, the Brittany Energy Center), the local energy agency (ALOEN), consumer associations (Confédération Syndical des Familles and UFC Que Choisir Morbihan), a university (University of Southern Brittany), and local companies (Niji, Delta Dore, Vity Technology).
The SOLENN project was funded to the tune of €5.3 million (out of a total budget of €13.3 million) by the ADEME (French Environment and Energy Management Agency) under a call for expressions of interest on smart power grids launched as part of the "Investments for the Future" Program.
Evidence of success
Managing one's daily household energy consumption helps raise the awareness of new energy practices and, by creating a sense of satisfaction, makes people want to go further. Results show that face-to-face contact is essential to get people to change their habits (+12% environmentally friendly behaviors, +30% energy culture for the households with human support). Providing information on web sites is not enough most of the time.
Access to household energy consumption before the onset of the project is essential, so that the data is available to participants from the start and the measures implemented can be assessed. The data recovery technologies need to be operational and perfectly functional from the word go.
Potential for learning or transfer
The green energy transition is now inescapable. But it can only succeed if everyone feels involved and encouraged to change their daily habits (not only in terms of energy use, but also travel, waste and food). The SOLENN project has shown that community engagement and changing practices require face to face contact, which means increased financial support for the grass-roots players, in particular local authorities. When information is provided online, the website should be designed jointly with the end-users.
Lessons learned in the SOLENN project have now been implemented in the SMILE twin-region project. ALOEN is co-managing a "Local communities and end-users" expert group to help the project leaders increase end-user involvement. ALOEN and Lorient Agglomération are also involved in the implementation of a local community platform displaying aggregate energy consumption, which will serve as a focal point for various events centered on energy saving, renewable energies, etc.
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