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Cities for Open and Participative Planning for Electricity Grid Resilience


1 October 2023


1 October 2027


EU | Interreg North Sea


Ghent University joins the European-wide COPPER initiative to develop local energy planning for city-wide green power

Ghent University has been selected to participate in one of Europe’s leading initiatives to test the future of local energy planning in towns and cities. The €5.1m Interreg North Sea-funded initiative Cities for Open and Participative Planning for Electricity Grid Resilience (COPPER) will develop and pilot state-of-the-art solutions for energy planning in decentralised energy systems in six frontrunner municipalities.


To reach our climate target, the municipality must plan for changes to the way we power our cars, homes and buildings. For although the switch to local renewable power is an opportunity for cleaner air, local green jobs, and net-zero energy, it also presents new challenges that require careful long-term planning.


Aiming to advance our ability to manage a transition to local green power, UGent has joined the European-wide initiative Cities for Open and Participative Planning for Electricity Grid Resilience (COPPER). Funded by the Interreg North Sea programme, the city of Ghent will be one of the first municipalities in Europe to deploy local energy action plans (LEAP), a bundle of techniques and activities that will enable us to drive locally-powered cities.


Through a four year process, COPPER will:

  • Deliver six first-of-a-kind pilots for local authority-led energy planning, from logistic parks to electric vehicle (EV) fleets to entire neighbourhoods.

  • Explore ways that Distribution System Operators (DSOs) and local authorities can work together to build a local energy system of storage and flexibility technologies, policies, market incentives and collaborations to help locally-powered cities thrive.

  • Build data models and other tools to boost local authority’s capacity to understand and steer their local energy system



Meet the COPPER alliance

COPPER plugs local energy changemakers across Europe into a continent-wide taskforce for local energy planning and action. Each partner will test a different aspect or use case to provide a distributed but comprehensive demonstration for local energy action planning:


  • As well as leading the COPPER initiative, the City of Ghent will roll out a flexibility pilot for the upcoming 'all-electric' neighbourhood of Mariakerke. Ghent will test the digital and physical infrastructure required to make flexibility work at a neighbourhood scale in partnership with DSO Fluvius and project partner University of Ghent.

  • The City of Bremen will partner with shared mobility provider Cambio Bremen to pilot new electric vehicle infrastructure for 20 EVs in car-sharing stations, aiming to monitor, assess and plan for the effects of EV mobility on the city’s grid.

  • The City of Antwerp will pilot solutions to reduce the peak demand of electric vehicles (EVs) and electric heating, using energy management software and bi-directional charging to smooth daily demand from EVs while updating its Strategic Energy Vision for heating.

  • The City of Dordrecht will support one of the first climate-neutral business parks in Europe, DistriPark, with a pilot for energy planning and flexibility support.

  • The Municipality of Fredericia will test the creation of a virtual energy community to support its growing need for flexibility as it invests in green hydrogen storage and the electrification of its local industry. Frederica will be supported by the University of Aalborg, who will help Frederica model how electrification and power-to-X (P2X) solutions will impact the grid.

  • Varberg Energi, the municipal-owned DSO for the Swedish town of Varberg, will pilot a city-wide virtual power plant within COPPER. The Nätflex network will provide flexibility services to the town of 35,000 people.

  • Climate Alliance brings its membership of 2,000 cities to ensure the key lessons from COPPER pilots are exchanged all across Europe, aiming to kick-start a wave of local energy action planning across Europe.

  • E.DSO brings its position as the European representative for Distribution System Operators (with 41 DSOs from 24 countries) to bring the key perspective of Europe’s DSOs to the initiative and find collaboration models between DSOs and municipalities.

  • Cleantech International will bring its global innovation community of climate technology businesses to support a series of matchmaking workshops between solution providers and European cities.

  • Center Denmark will act as the project’s provider for data collection, data science and data processing, using their experience collecting and operationalising data from 400,000 Danish households to provide data-driven solutions for the green transition.


Learn more

Learn more about COPPER here, and follow us on LinkedIn to stay informed about the COPPER project. Please address questions to

COPPER is an Interreg North Sea project co-funded by the European Union.



Grids & networks, Energy use: urban environment, Energy markets


Project partner


Jan Desmet

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