European Commission invests 4 million euros in innovative Flemish energy project

2016 Zwevegem Transfo 10
(c) 2016, Zwevegem Transfo

At the end of June, the European Commission gave the green light to the RE / SOURCED project, which will develop a circular and self-sufficient energy system on Transfo, a multifunctional heritage site (10 hectares) of an old power plant in Zwevegem, West Flanders. RE / SOURCED stands for Renewable Energy SOlutions for URban communities based on Circular Economy policies and Dc backbones. The project is at the intersection of three very topical themes: renewable energy, circular economy and the conversion of heritage.

RE / SOURCED will have an operating budget of 5 million euros, of which Europe will finance 4 million. The project brings together Inter-municipal Leiedal, the municipality of Zwevegem, the Province of West Flanders, Ghent University, Flux50, VITO and

RE / SOURCED and renewable energy

The goal of RE / SOURCED is to fully supply Transfo with locally produced renewable energy. The backbone of the system is a local DC power grid that provides both energy savings and material savings (more capacity with the same amount of metals / materials). The DC grid connects a number of distributed renewable sources (solar panels and a medium-sized wind turbine) with energy storage (batteries, hydropower accumulation and vehicle-to-grid). This Renewable Energy Community - in which all users on Transfo will participate - will manage the shared infrastructure and collaboration. RE / SOURCED also provides an educational trail for citizens, schools and local authorities, and a training package for professionals. The Flemish government is applying for a 'rule-free zone': for example, coloring may temporarily be done outside the lines.

RE / SOURCED and circular economy

There are rare materials in solar panels and batteries. That is why RE / SOURCED introduces aspects of the circular economy in the design of the renewable energy system, such as shared use, retrofitting and more efficient use of materials. After all, the growth of renewable energy systems, storage systems and smart grids is causing an increased demand for raw materials such as steel, copper, cobalt,
aluminum and lithium. A challenge for the energy transition is therefore to make investments in renewable energy more sustainable, based on the principles of the circular economy.

RE / SOURCED and heritage conversion

RE / SOURCED is being built on Transfo, a former power station built in 1912. The 10 hectare site has been listed as a monument for 20 years and is exceptional due to its scale, the state of the industrial heritage and the opportunities it offers. The three structural partners - Zwevegem, the Province of West Flanders and Leiedal - are working together to give Transfo the repurposing it deserves: the conversion of industrial heritage with a regional, national and even international character. In the meantime, Transfo has developed into a multifunctional site with (social) homes, offices, a microbrewery, leisure and sports facilities and event spaces. This mix of energy profiles and its historical link with electricity production makes Transfo the perfect setting for RE / SOURCED.

A versatile partnership

Intercommunale Leiedal is responsible for the project and is assisted by the municipality of Zwevegem, the Province of West Flanders, Ghent University, Flux50, VITO and
Leiedal has extensive experience in renewable energy and heritage conversion projects and also submitted the project. Leiedal is responsible for the global project coordination and communication. The intermunicipal company has been closely involved from the beginning in the redevelopment of the Transfosite.
The Province of West Flanders will focus on the educational trail for citizens, schools and local authorities. The Province is also a structural partner in the redevelopment of Transfo.

The municipality of Zwevegem is the main owner of the site. The municipality will support the implementation of the project and assist the partners in the practical organization in the field.

UGent specializes in the design and development of optimally integrated networks with minimal losses. UGent will identify the capacities, capacity and location of the cables, as well as selecting and dimensioning renewable energy sources and storage systems.
VITO is the most important Flemish player in the field of circular economy. VITO's key role in RE / SOURCED lies in the development of models in which circularity is also applied to the renewable energy sector. After all, this sector is very material intensive.
Flux50 has the knowledge and the network to provide the partners with suitable technology. Flux50 will evaluate the system configuration proposals and monitor the legislative aspects, including in the field of data management. Finally, Flux50 is responsible for the dissemination of the project conclusions within its broad network of players in the renewable energy sector. is the expert partner for the collaboration part, and will guide the creation of a legal entity that fits the definition of the energy communities targeted by Europe. Furthermore, will disseminate the project and its results through its European network of energy communities and among EU policy makers.