The CEESEN partnership conference in Ptuj (Slovenia) in May 2022 offered the opportunity of sharing experiences and examples from other projects related to sustainable energy use. The CSSC Lab project, which is co-financed by INTERREG-DANUBE and has a total budget of just over 2 million EUR was presented on this occasion with a particular focus falling on its demo centres.

The project’s main aim is to test and promote city storage and sector coupling solutions in the Danube region. Its main target group are small and medium-sized municipalities since these harbour vast potential in terms of the role they can play in the energy transition. This potential is currently not being seized since municipal staff frequently lacks the necessary know-how needed to implement technical energy projects.

While the definition of sector coupling varies, the definition used in the context of the project relates to the transfer of energy generated through renewable energy sources to other sectors. Storage technologies such as batteries are then used to ensure the energy is available at a later point in time when it is needed and not when it is generated.  These approaches can be applied in a wide range of contexts and can help increase the usage of renewable energy sources.

There are a total of four demo centres in the project (Slovenia, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia), all of which test different sector coupling approaches and are running in varying contexts (very small communes to medium-sized cities).  During the conference session, the speakers focused on the Austrian and the Slovenian cases, both of which are situated in rural communities.

The Austrian demo centre was launched in June 2021 as part of the building in Stegersbach, Burgenland. The demo centre is part of a larger competence centre for renewable energy, which uses a range of different sector coupling and city storage technologies.

The technologies being tested in the centre include:

  1. Li-Ion and saltwater batteries for storing electricity
  2. Thermal heat storages for storing heat
  3. A heat exchanger system with concrete core activation for heating and cooling the building
  4. Equipment for mobile storage for charging electric vehicles

The Slovenian demo centre opened in Desternik, Slovenia in July 2021. The demo centre is based at a municipal building and includes technologies which test:

  1. The generation of electricity through photovoltaics
  2. The storage of electricity in a battery
  3. The charging of electric vehicles

Both centres provide the local community with access to an e-vehicle charging station running purely on solar energy. In the case of the Austrian demo centre, heat is also captured and used for heating and cooling the building. In both cases, batteries are used to store the energy to ensure it can be employed when it is needed. The centres clearly show that rural communities can play an active role in advancing the green transition in Europe!

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