Return to site

"Our development approach emphasized creating world-class technology for EU citizens by EU citizens, reducing reliance on foreign technology from big tech."

Final interview with Vincent Dierckx, technical manager

· News

Vincent Dierickx, REScoopVPP’s technical manager, reflects on the main achievements of the project.

Can you briefly introduce yourself once more? What was your role and main responsibilities in the project?

I'm Vincent Dierickx, the technical coordinator, and co-founder of EnergieID, one of the project partners. We're dedicated to accelerating the energy transition through the implementation of supportive IT tools. With a background in mechanical engineering, majoring in mechatronics, I've specialized in energy monitoring and management. At EnergieID, I oversee product management and innovation.

broken image

Looking back at 3,5 years of REScoopVPP, can you take us through some main highlights of the VPP journey?

Originating from the idea of fostering cooperation within - the European federation of citizen energy cooperatives - on IT development, we recognized around 2017 that the market was shifting towards real-time pricing, necessitating an understanding of flexibility and smart home control. We decided to submit a Horizon proposal aimed to create the most advanced smart home ecosystem.

We started the project in June 2020 amid the full outbreak of COVID. For me, the first highlight was our team's motivation to navigate COVID regulations by finding efficient ways of digital collaboration, resulting in a more streamlined international collaboration compared to previous projects.

broken image

Another significant achievement was the market uptake, particularly through the Flexibility Working Group meetings - hosted by - fostering EU-wide collaboration on software. That’s where belonging to the same REScoop family really makes a difference.

Additionally, witnessing the maturity of technology by our development partners CarbonCoop, Enercoop, and EnergieID exceeded our expectations. Enercoop's commercial implementation of the project’s forecasting technology, leading them to become Balance Responsible Party (BRP), was a huge achievement. The fact that other energy cooperatives outside of our project are trying out this technology further demonstrated the business potential of our developments.

Lastly, I'm incredibly impressed by the pilot site leaders. How they took the challenge to use and experiment with our technology. The technology proved that it invites tech enthusiasts to experiment, create, and improve on their own, for their own needs and based on their own knowledge and experience! A nice example is a beautiful 3D printed firefly (logo of partner Som Energia) as a home display colored LED, showing good moments to consume based on our data. Our community approach works!

broken image

The positive energy within our team was a driving force, fostering an unprecedented level of responsibility, collaboration, and enthusiasm.

The baseline of the project is: "We're an EU project developing energy flexibility tools by co-ops for co-ops!". Did the consortium manage to comply with this overarching mission?

Certainly, our development team primarily comprised energy cooperatives, and our five pilots were cooperatives as well. All our developments are cooperatively owned or open source. Discussions within’s Flexibility Working Group consistently supported market uptake and dissemination. While we acknowledge that achieving our desired level of collaboration isn't easy, the seeds are planted, and I’m optimistic that collaboration will only intensify in the future.

At the start of the project, REScoopVPP aimed at building the most advanced smart building ecosystem for energy communities. Did that work out? How does this ecosystem look like today?

The project not only allowed us to work on the ecosystem but also provided valuable feedback on prioritizing technological components. Initially, we envisioned creating an independent local smart home controller, but we realized the potential of a trusted community with advanced cloud computing features. The lack of interoperability for a plug-and-play solution led us to rework the COFYbox, making it an extension on the standard Home Assistant.

broken image

This decision rendered our ecosystem more universal, compatible with various home controllers, and more focused on cloud technology for communities.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the positive energy within our team throughout the project. Our exceptionally stable and motivated team made working together a pleasure. Bi-weekly meetings were well-attended, with everyone actively involved and interacting, leading to the successful achievement of common goals.

What was challenging? A barrier, a struggle?

Undoubtedly, COVID presented a significant challenge. However, it also had a positive impact by pushing us towards more digital collaboration, significantly improving the efficiency of our bi-weekly partner meetings and weekly development meetings. On the flip side, overcoming challenges in implementing technology in members' houses, dealing with unstable wifi and incompatible hardware, remains an ongoing struggle.

broken image

Fortunately, our extensive pool of enthusiastic pilot members partially mitigated these challenges through careful selection.


What should (EU) policy makers do in order to make the energy landscape more accessible for energy cooperatives to engage in flexibility services?

Urgently increasing the share of renewables in our electricity system is crucial. Energy communities, often supported by local citizens without individual system opportunities, can play a vital role. However, evolving market regulations (congestion regulations, negative prices, dynamic contracts) pose profitability barriers for energy communities, necessitating flexibility in energy production, storage, and consumption. Policies supporting collective self-consumption and energy sharing can greatly help, but there's a need for continuous improvement in regulations. Moreover, emphasizing the importance of interoperability for connecting hardware to smart home controllers, open and well-documented APIs are essential for easy installation and use.

We urge the commission to keep improving regulations that stimulate collaboration and reward efficient use of locally produced renewable energy, but also to closely monitor the local implementations in member states. I think communities can be the best partners for local governments to achieve the climate goals.

How did the REScoopVPP results contribute to the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme goals (addressing the EU's environmental and social challenges).

In terms of achieving smart, sustainable, and inclusive economic growth, our project is exemplary. Focused on inclusivity, we aimed to help communities produce and supply the greenest and most affordable energy for all. Our development approach emphasizes creating world-class technology for EU citizens by EU citizens, reducing reliance on foreign technology from big tech. Despite being more low-tech, our approach aligns with achieving the same goals with fewer capital and resources.

Can you describe the overall impact the project made and will continue to have in the energy sector?

Our project has laid the foundation for robust technological developments within energy communities. Serving as the perfect bridge between EU citizens and the complex energy sector, energy communities can enhance trust in renewables and real-time energy markets. The impact of our project extends beyond its duration, continuing to strengthen the relationship between citizens and the energy sector.

In 2021, we had an interview with you where you elaborated on your dream after 3 years of REScoop VPP. You mentioned that you hoped to be proud, together with the partners, to have really started a European wide collaboration on technology for smart communities. Did that dream come true?

I believe the Flexibility Working Group within and our Rescode code sharing platform reflect the success of our team in creating European-wide collaboration on technology. This accomplishment resonates with the dream we articulated in 2021, marking a significant step towards fostering innovation and collaboration on a broader scale.

broken image