Waterschei, 22 September 2016: Today the building EnergyVille I was inaugurated in the presence of the mayor of the City of Genk Wim Dries, European Commissioner for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič, Federal Minister Marie Christine Marghem and Flemish Minister Bart Tommelein. Campus EnergyVille N.V. is the financer of this carbon-neutral building that is the home of research center EnergyVille. Furthermore, EnergyVille has the ambition to integrate the whole of Thor Park in a flexible regulatory framework in the field of energy, to ensure high level research and the development of the energy systems of the future.
In EnergyVille the research facilities KU Leuven, Vito, imec and UHasselt combine their research in the field of sustainable energy. EnergyVille wants to help realize the energy transition and is supported by local as well as international partners. Europe too sees the energy transition as a priority, says European Commissioner for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič: “The European Commission considers the realization of an “Energy Union” as one of her top priorities and the European cohesion policy, among many other initiatives, plays a crucial role in the achievement of that objective”.
Situated at Thor Park, the former mining site of Waterschei in Genk, EnergyVille will contribute to the transition of black gold to green gold, from coal to sustainable energy. The cooperation with the rest of Thor Park that existed in the past will be reinforced now that Campus EnergyVille N.V. recently joined their capital. Furthermore, the Flemish minister of Energy, Bart Tommelein, has expressed his support for a flexible regulatory framework in the whole of Thor Park. This means the current law system would be adapted to make the testing of new technologies and business models possible on a large scale between different buildings, and in that way give input to the policymakers and regulators for the future. A ‘living lab’, unique in Europe!
Bart Tommelein, minister of Energy: “Flanders faces an important energy transformation. Cities – smart cities – will play a crucial role in this. With the opening of EnergyVille I we invest in the knowledge needed, among others batteries, decentral systems, smart grids,… For that investments in research and development in the field of sustainable energy is crucial. To be able to implement these investments and innovative ideas faster, we advocate flexible regulatory frameworks. The preliminary draft of the decree is ready and will soon be submitted to the Flemish government."
A ‘living lab’ for a sustainable energy transition is of high importance for the future. “The energy sector is an essential sector for the Belgian economy. The high level research initiated by what is called the Silicon Valley of alternative energy helps to identify and seize numerous opportunities in the future, including in the field of the renewable energy sources that we need to keep on developing. And that to ensure a healthy and comfortable lifestyle for our children in a society freed from carbon emissions. I aspire to see francophone universities joining the forces of EnergyVille and thus participating in an enthusiastic project for generations to come”, says Minister of Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development in the Belgian Government Marie Christine Marghem.
The activities of EnergyVille are illustrated in the building itself, that is completely carbon-neutral and received the BREEAM Excellent label. The innovative research initiated here and the specific projects that contribute to a sustainable society were presented to the public during the opening event. If you look closely, you will see more construction works next to the current building. That’s where EnergyVille II is being built. The building will have a floor area of 4900 m², of which 2000 m² will be used for labs and 2900 m² for offices. The labs are centered around research for the technological development of thin film PV, PV-modules and new batteries for local energy production and storage. The construction works have started recently and the research- and development activities are expected to be operational by the second quarter of 2018.
The City of Genk too considers itself as a smart city with Thor Park as one of the key elements, confirms mayor Wim Dries: “As administration too we experiment with ‘smart’, data-driven ways of policymaking. That way we build expertise, but we also support organizations like EnergyVille who will help carve out the future. It is our ambition to turn Thor Park into a hotspot for energy, technology and innovation. By 2018, this site will not only bring together high level research, development and business, but also training for upcoming technological talent."
In the media
EnergyVille is an association of the Flemish research institutes KU Leuven, VITO and imec in the field of sustainable energy and intelligent energy systems. Our researchers provide expertise to industry and public authorities on energy-efficient buildings and intelligent networks for a sustainable urban environment. This includes, for example, smart grids and advanced district heating and cooling.
One of the objectives of EnergyVille is to become one of the top five European institutes in innovative energy research. In this context, the center was embedded in major national and international networks right from the start. It covers research, development, training and innovative industrial activities under one name and in close collaboration with local, regional and international partners.
EnergyVille aims to be a driver in the Thor science park in Genk in the areas of research, business development and employment creation. The research center is supported by the city of Genk, the Flemish Government, LRM, POM Limburg and the European structural funds.
EnergyVille is located in an entirely carbon-neutral building, designed by the architecture firm Kempe Thill, which exchanges warmth and electricity with its surroundings. With the lay-out of the building we strive towards an excellent BREEAM certification, which represents a minimal environmental impact and a high satisfaction in usage. Thanks to optimized transport greenhouse gas emissions will also be minimalized. The construction and user friendliness are optimalized: the shape shows similarities with the majestic main entrance building of Thor Park. The design provides landscape offices, meeting rooms, big seminar rooms and innovative laboratories incorporating the nature of the surroundings. The big open windows and the specialized lattice work on the façade reinforce this as well. The building was financed by Campus EnergyVille NV. SInce 2016 the building is occupied by approximately 250 researchers.