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European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
News article15 January 2024European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency2 min read

R-ACES - Turning industrial sites and parks into ecoregions

R-ACES - H2020 EE

The R-ACES project, funded by Horizon 2020, has supported industrial parks and clusters to become ecoregions with reduced CO2 emissions, where multiple stakeholders engage in energy cooperation by exchanging surplus energy (heat/cold streams), information and materials, by investing in renewable energy and by integrating smart energy management systems.

The pilot ecoregions

R-ACES supported energy cooperation projects in three pilot areas: Antwerp (Belgium), Nyborg (Denmark) and Bergamo (Italy).

Every energy cooperation project has a common start: to identify local opportunities by examining the energy supply and demand, the stakeholders, and the existing infrastructure of the region. Besides supporting this process, R-ACES also facilitated the organisation of individual and common discussions, the mapping of opportunities, the creation of action plans and the development of feasibility studies and relevant business models.  

Example: The Antwerp ecoregion

Thanks to the close collaboration with the trade and business associations and the local authorities, the project managed to introduce collective measures as well as materialising concrete plans towards more sustainable business parks in Antwerp.

In Terbekehof industrial area, where energy, green and waste policies for the future are being developed, the project helped to explore different cooperation options. An example of fruitful cooperation is the creation of a local energy community, the first of its type in Flanders, exchanging solar energy (PV) across various locations of several companies, with plans to integrate also wind turbines in a subsequent phase. 

In Kanaalkant (about 600 companies), where investments to modernise the area and integrate circularity aspects are foreseen, at least six different energy cooperation projects were explored. These included district heating networks for excess heat recovery (local companies and residential developments). An example of project executed is a roof PV installation in a logistics building (2 MWp), with P2P energy cooperation.

R-ACES had a significant impact in the short and long term for companies, developers and local authorities. For example, the city of Antwerp is supporting the roll-out of PV on large industrial roofs, financing roof stability studies and developing business cases.

A facilitation toolbox available for industrial clusters and decision makers

R-ACES developed three practical tools to facilitate dialogue among stakeholders in industrial clusters, to build trust and confidence, and to help them set up energy collaborations, supporting the entire process of organising an ecoregion and the collaboration inside it. These are the self-assessment tool, the legal decision tool, and the energy management platform.   

R-ACES has also created an online education environment to support capacity building of stakeholders, including, among other materials, a serious board game (HEATopoly), for students and professionals to understand the dynamics of energy cooperation.  

For more information about the project, check out their website: