Vilnius is taking the lead in the smart energy sector: the city is becoming a digital laboratory
The City of Vilnius is taking the lead in uniting players in the energy-tech sector on such a significant scale for the first time. This will lead in the creation of a start-up laboratory of sustainable and intelligent energy “Intelligent Energy Lab”, which will pave the way for an open platform for connecting local and international businesses, research representatives, national companies and Vilnius municipality-owned companies interested in developing technology and innovation-based energy for the first time in Lithuania at the municipal level.
“I am happy to see that the principles of fast and open Vilnius penetrate all areas important for the city. We are already known as the most attractive playground for talent in the fintech sector from abroad. Today, Vilnius is taking yet another step towards innovation, becoming an open energy-tech laboratory, where we will first create a higher-quality and better service for the population by joining forces with representatives of research, business, other organizations and institutions. As an open data capital, Vilnius has brought together players in the energy sector focused on technology, innovation and data digitization under its flag. Although there have been individual initiatives before, the cooperation of this scale is the first to move the entire energy sector,” says Remigijus Šimašius, the Mayor of Vilnius.
The Mayor of Vilnius says that this direction of the city towards sustainable and intelligent energy is a consistent part of the implementation of a greater strategy of green Vilnius, where sustainable and smart energy means not only a renewed and more efficient infrastructure, cleaner air and greener city, but also the created more significant economic benefits.
Another ambitious goal, which will be unanimously pursued by all partners interested in the development of energy efficiency, environmental sustainability and the modern urban energy sector for the first time, is to achieve a neutral impact of the city on the climate in Vilnius by 2040. According to calculations, the first project investments will allow saving 400 000 tons of CO2 in 10 years, which is equivalent to more than 21 000 hectares of forests that would be needed to absorb this amount of CO2 emissions.
The Vice Mayor of Vilnius drew attention to the philosophy of circular economy whereon the new platform is based.
“It is no secret that as the city expands and grows, the demand for energy also increases. Therefore, ensuring sustainable and efficient energy requires a systematic package of modern tools, combining activities of different municipal companies and energy experts joining the initiative rather than individual measures. The principles of circular economy have already been used in Vilnius: stations for exchanging things “Dėk’ui” have been operating in the city, 105 new textile waste collection containers were opened this year, while Vilniaus Šilumos Tinklai has been arranging the processing of residual ash into road construction materials. Thus, we see a huge potential for expanding the provision of sustainable energy by new means, starting with more active cooperation between municipal companies,” said the Deputy Mayor of Vilnius.
A decision was made to entrust the bringing of different companies, organizations, foundations and researchers engaged in energy activities under one roof to the Vilnius municipality-owned enterprise Vilniaus Šilumos Tinklai.
According to Gerimantas Bakanas, the CEO of Vilniaus Šilumos Tinklai, coordinating the activities of a new open platform and the ongoing projects is not an easy task, but this is a duty that proves the progress achieved by the company.
“We see that Vilnius definitely has a space for applying the latest energy technology innovations and not only to keep up with European partners, but also to take the lead in sustainable energy solutions in the Baltic and Eastern European regions. The fact that even the largest players and investors in the energy sector voluntarily join the “Intelligent Energy Lab” initiative shows that the goals and the expected potential benefits for customers are not just an empty vision, but a realistic goal,” says G. Bakanas, CEO of VŠT.
Researchers from Vilnius Gediminas Technical University also spoke in favour of cooperation in the sustainable energy platform.
“Our involvement in the activities of the “Intelligent Energy Lab” will be aimed at pursuing to contribute to a smooth transition of the city’s energy infrastructure to a new generation energy, sharing good practices in the field of energy project research and experimental development. We will also contribute by bringing together communities of Lithuanian research, investors, business and technology parks, because representatives of these communities have already been meeting and cooperating in the activities of the University and the process of organization of studies,” said Prof. Dr. Alfonsas Daniūnas, the Rector of VGTU.
The principles and goals of operation of the new sustainable energy platform were established in a memorandum signed by the participants in the new Intelligent Energy Lab – 16 companies and organizations. Companies such as Ignitis Group, EPSO-G, the Centre of Registers, Axioma Metering, BOD Group, Solitek, also the Lithuanian Association of Heat Suppliers, the Association of Independent Heat Producers, the Lithuanian Builders’ Association, investment funds BaltCap and Katalista Ventures, also research representatives of Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Sunrise Valley Science and Technology Park, and the Association of Vilnius Valleys expressed their wish to join the initiative of the City of Vilnius in the memorandum.
The Intelligent Energy Lab has not set a deadline for joining the initiative, continuing to actively invite new partners to join in. Vilniaus Šilumos Tinklai has already initiated pilot projects that meet the goals of the sustainable and efficient energy laboratory: customers have been provided with smart meters, also issuing the first conditions for connecting to a lower temperature network, advising on solar cogeneration and developing a project on the collection of residual heat.