GDC Award 2017-copyAmsterdam will be walking away with the GDC 2018 award for the City-ZEN ‘virtual power plant’, a project which puts green energy into the grid and money into residents’ pockets at the same time.

The City-ZEN project not only stabilises the local grid in the neighbourhood but also decreases the societal cost of the energy transition locally” said Jan Willem Eising, project coordinator, accepting the award.

The virtual power plant is an online platform which puts together the solar energy that residents are creating and consuming, storing the surplus locally. This allows residents who are generating their own solar energy in their homes and sell it on the open market! So far, more than 40 households have taken part in the initiative in the Dutch capital’s district of Niew-West.

This project delivered impressively on GDC’s selection criteria by putting citizens at the centre of ICT innovation, enabling them through technology to improve their own quality of life by bring the city closer to its green goals. Most importantly, this engaging method of incentivising solar energy production among citizens is highly reclable – there is little to prevent every city in Europe from implementing their own version of this programme. Indeed, we hope they will!

GDC-Award2017-priceThe jury, which consisted of Miimu Airaksinen (VTT, Finland); Jan Dictus (GOJA Consulting, Austria); and Cristobal Irazoqui (European Commission, DG CNECT), were very impressed with all the case studies submitted to the Green Digital Charter’s annual publication.

Two other projects stood out. Bristol’s REPLICATE project, piloted through 150 ‘smart homes’, is an energy demand management scheme that monitors and controls energy use in order to level out peak demand. Dublin’s iSCAPE project uses ‘passive control systems’ to reduce the impact of air pollution in urban spaces, in combination with policy interventions and creating behavioural changes in citizens’ lifestyle.