Smart Village Lab: how Flanders sees future energy use

Incorporated into the Green Energy Park project in the Zellik Research Park near the Brussels Ring, Smart Village Lab is a living university lab to jointly test the energy use of the future with the industry. Flemish Minister for Innovation Hilde Crevits (CD&V) got the honor to push the virtual start button on Thursday.

At the site, the latest technology in smart energy for houses, offices, and an electric car charging ‘plaza’ is set up in a continuous test environment. Scientists but also interested companies can test new energy management tech in different simulated scenarios.

Six smart homes

That includes heat pump systems for homes and solar panels (and later wind turbines to be added) to generate ‘green’ electricity and home and large professional backup battery systems linked to different AC and DC charging infrastructure solutions. The researchers can configure six ‘houses’ on-site will all kinds of solutions for test and training purposes.

The latter, for instance, allows bidirectional charging, the so-called V2G (Vehicle to Grid), and ‘smart charging’ to have multiple cars charged within a set time frame, distributing the available (green) energy available. A ‘Smart Energy Grid’ enables houses and offices to exchange thermal and electric energy.

Whole research park CO2 neutral

The researchers’ ultimate goal is to make the whole 19 hectares Zellik Research Park with its 70 companies a CO2-neutral zone over time and use that knowledge to implement elsewhere. A scale model of the entire Zellik Research park at the Green Energy Park project office visualizes the actual energy flows within the park.

The living lab is part of the Green Energy Park project (GEP). The latter is a joint project of the Free University of Brussels (VUB) and the University Hospital of Brussels (UZB), located nearby in Jette. This research campus focuses on energy and mobility transition solutions, the hospital of the future, and what they call ‘smart regions’ for energy use.

360 kW fast charger

For the living lab opened on Thursday, the researchers are joined by the industry, represented by Flux50. The latter is a so-called Flemish spearhead cluster for energy, bringing together companies and organizations active in the energy sector.

One of these industry partners is Swiss global technology company ABB. They claim to have the world’s fastest electric car charger with the 360 kW capable Terra 360, enabling an EV to gain an extra 100 km of range in three minutes. Or a full battery in some 15 minutes. Provided the car itself and its batteries can cope with it.

And there is one installed at the new Smart Village Lab that will be publicly accessible once connected. ABB, a large provider of charging solutions in all sizes, is setting up on-site an ‘experience center’ where the technology is demonstrated.

The Smart Village Lab consists of six ‘houses’ – the Smart Home Lab – covered with solar panels, battery-based energy storage system, the ABB experience center, a 1 000 kva smart remote-operated transformer from grid manager Fluxsys, and a ‘smart charging plaza’.




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