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UGent drives energy innovation with 6 new projects funded

Ghent University is project leader or partner in 6 of the 13 newest approved Energy Transition Fund projects, raising almost 3,7 million euros for energy research. 

Ghent University reaffirms its pivotal role in Belgian energy research, which is underscored by the results of the latest Energy Transition Fund call 2023-2024 (ETF). This annual call is highly competitive: 42 proposals were submitted, resulting in the selection of 13 new projects for funding by FPS Economy. Among these 13 projects Ghent University either takes up a leading role or offers its expertise as a project partner in 6 projects. This energy expertise is mainly concentrated in the UGent valorization consortia EnerGhentIC (energy transition) and Metals (metallurgy). 

Academic research remains crucial for driving innovation and advancing the energy transition. With the increasing demand for sustainable energy sources, there is a shift towards offshore wind, grid integration and flexibility. These themes are at the forefront of research efforts, which is also evident by the goals of the recently funded projects.  


OFFSHORE WIND | advancing airborne wind tech, exploring soil structures, shaping policies & fostering excellence in offshore energy 

As offshore wind technology evolves, we’re exploring exciting new avenues like airborne wind technology (AWE). We’re focusing on testing kite flights to generate power on existing turbine foundations, aiming to gather valuable data for future research and tools, paving the way for potentially repowering offshore wind with AWE systems (MAVERICK). 

With our mind set to the Princess Elisabeth Zone we will also investigate the soil of that future offshore energy hub in the North Sea, namely the strength and stiffness of the clay. Understanding the faults and fissures of that clay soil will help us to decide what kind of steel we need to use for the foundations of the new wind turbines that will go up in that zone (FISSCK). 

But it's not just about technologies and zones – we also need to ensure Belgium's competitiveness in the offshore wind sector. That's why we're analyzing and developing industrial policy strategies. By examining various European policies, we will recommend strategies that boost economic growth, reduce carbon emissions, and secure our energy supply (BE-WISE). 

There are many existing RD&I initiatives related to offshore wind, and with extensions to multi-use applications such as floating solar or offshore hydrogen, but their results and recommendations remain scattered. The established OWI-Lab collaboration, of which UGent is a founding member, will therefore consolidate these initiatives. It will also create a joint innovation roadmap for Belgium’s offshore energy future, drive technological advancements and establish an academy to nurture offshore energy skills & talent. This unified effort will be known as the Offshore Energy Centre of Excellence (OWI CREATE). 


GRID INTEGRATION | balancing renewable energy and grid efficiency 

Another critical challenge lies in integrating renewable energy into existing grid infrastructure. We zoom in on the interplay between renewable energy and charging infrastructure, particularly for smart truck charging. In this project we will explore how to maximize flexibility for grid balancing, ensuring smooth charging operations while seamlessly integrating renewable sources (IMPROCHARES). 

Similarly, we're focusing on optimizing offshore grid market designs. We will be analyzing various market designs and mechanisms, including day-ahead and ancillary service markets. By doing so, we aim to develop recommendations that streamline the integration of offshore wind energy into the grid, benefiting all stakeholders involved (CROCODILE). 


More information on the Ghent University expertise: 


The call for projects for the Energy Transition Fund of FPS Economy (ETF) generated 42 project proposals this year. On 17th May, the federal council of ministers decided to grant funds to 13 of these projects for a total amount of € 15M. 


Interested in our 6 new projects? Then look at them in more detail below. 

BE-WISE | Strengthening the competitiveness of the Belgian offshore wind sector via industrial policy strategies and economics 

BE-WISE aims to develop policy recommendations to strengthen the competitive position of the Belgian offshore wind sector. It involves an in-depth political-economic analysis of existing and emerging industrial policy strategies in Europe, such as direct state aid, prequalification criteria for auctions, and trade defense instruments. The project aims to strategically position the Belgian offshore wind industry for success, focusing on promoting economic competitiveness, decarbonization, and supply security. 

o Project partners: UGent, Belgian Offshore Cluster (BOC) 

o Duration: 2 years 

o Total project budget: € 714.006 

o Total UGent subsidy: € 588.224 

o Contact person within UGent: &  

IMPROCHARES | Improving grid hosting capacity in the electrification process by combining smart truck charging applications with renewable energy sources and local hybrid storage systems 

MAVERICK | Measuring, Calibrating and Validating Airborne Wind Energy System Simulation Tools in Offshore Conditions 

OWI CREATE | The Belgian Offshore Wind Innovation Center for Research, Expertise and Advanced Technology Excellence 

CROCODILE | Cross-border Coordination of Offshore Grids under Different Designs for Day-Ahead and Ancillary Service Markets 

FISSCK | Fundamental Investigation of Strength and Stiffness of Clays of the Kortrijk Formation 


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