In a joint effort to enhance urban energy solutions, the EU-funded oPEN Lab project convened in its 5th General Assembly in Tartu, Estonia. Over two intensive days at the Tartu University Library, consortium members discussed innovative strategies and shared progress updates.
The project, aimed at creating Positive Energy Neighbourhoods (PENs), focuses on developing energy-efficient and flexible communities. Representatives from various Living Labs, including VITO, AHA, and Tartu City, provided detailed presentations on recent flagship developments.
Discussions ranged from business models and financing opportunities to technical solutions for heating, electrical storage, and ventilation. Breakout sessions addressed critical aspects such as just transition in urban areas and the integration of renovation processes throughout the energy value chain.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and monitoring were also on the agenda, with experts working to align baselines and calculations for project success. The sessions, facilitated by VITO and KUL, brought clarity to essential metrics.
The EU policy landscape was addressed by BPIE, shedding light on the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and the Renewable Energy Directive (REDIII), emphasizing collective self-consumption and renewable energy communities.
The event concluded with a site visit to the main heat and power co-production plant (CHP) that is covering the annual base of load of the Tartu City heat network and a walking tour through the oPEN Living Lab Tartu which lies in the city district of Annelinn.
“We are close to surpassing the halfway mark of oPEN Lab, achieving major milestones as our Living Labs come to life. Soon, progress won’t just be confined to reports, it will manifest itself in tangible, real-world transformations, and that is how we make a difference. Our ambition of combining technological, social and digital innovation to implement a mostly theoretical concept of Positive Energy Neighbourhoods is powerful.” (Maarten De Groote, Project Coordinator, Vito).