Parties in the European innovation program REnovates have announced the results of their research on the possibilities to make existing residential areas energy-neutral in a smart and future-proof manner. The results arise from the transformation of a total of 249 existing rental properties to zero-energy homes.

The final report was presented to Minister Eric Wiebes and the Flemish Minister Bart Tommelein during a symposium in Homestudio's - the Experience Center Housing of BAM in Utrecht.

'The most important conclusion from our research is that smart, energy-neutral neighborhoods are technically feasible. With amended legislation and regulations that provide flexible energy prices, we can make a business case in the Netherlands,' says Dennis van Goch, Innovation Project Manager at BAM. We can also significantly increase our contribution to the energy transition if we succeed in our ambition to expand the REnnovates concept on a European scale. The first initiatives have already been started in Belgium, Spain and Poland. '

Carbon-free society

The Flemish vice-minister-president and Minister of Energy Bart Tommelein endorses this ambition: 'Renovations that lead to an energy-neutral residential district in one go accelerate the transition towards a low-carbon society. It is a challenge we face throughout Europe. Member States can better exchange their good examples. The sooner we reach a low-carbon society, the better."
 
Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Eric Wiebes indicated that REnnovates has shown that energy-neutral districts are possible: 'We are at the beginning of the learning curve. By continuing to bring initiatives together and stimulate innovations, we can make neighborhoods in the Netherlands more sustainable. '

Smart districts

Since the start of REnnovates in 2015, 249 existing rental properties in Heerhugowaard, Soesterberg/Soest and Woerden have been transformed into gasless zero-energy homes. The aged homes are now part of a smart neighborhood in which energy is used as efficiently and effectively as possible. In addition to solar panels and heat pumps, home batteries and a neighborhood battery (Woerden) are also used. By smart control with heat pumps and the collection of generation peaks with batteries, it is possible for the network operator to minimize or even prevent costly investments for capacity on the electricity grid. BAM expects to be able to offer this as a new service to the network operators in the future.

Involving residents

REnnovates has special attention for the involvement of the residents. The monitoring of the zero-energy homes is designed in such a way that the resident has a better understanding of all energy flows. The involvement of the residents is crucial for making comfortable, healthy, sustainable and affordable living feasible.

European partners

The REnnovates project (rennovates.eu) was started in 2015 by BAM as an extension of the Stroomversnelling innovation program. At the time, the EU made a project subsidy of € 5 million available from Horizon 2020, the European subsidy program for research and innovation.
 
BAM has sought cooperation with eight European partners for REnnovates. The consortium includes two construction companies, Mostostal (Poland) and Mondragon (Spain). The Dutch grid operator Stedin is investigating the impact on the network. Belgium is represented in the consortium with the Flemish research organisation VITO/EnergyVille, the Flemish specialist in the field of 'smart grids' Enervalis and Belfius Bank. The other partners are MassiveCell Technologies, a Finnish start-up that builds innovative battery systems, and the German KEO, an electronics company that introduces its communication standard EEBus.

During the symposium, the parties have announced that they will continue cooperating in various ways.