Location and operation
I think it is good to realize that projects go through phases and I guess it is hard to argue that the inception is an important one. The FED project was among the first tranche of UIA projects that started back at the end of 2016, which meant that the actual inception and writing took place in 2015 and conceptually even earlier. If we look at predecessors of the FED we may think of the Horizon 2020 project named Celsius, which became famous for supplying district heating to a ship. This is relevant because it shows that the creativity around heat and heat networks in Gothenburg shown in the FED project, was not a special, once in a lifetime, situation. The area is very suited for projects like this one. It was not the first project, and it will not be the last, since creativity and the right partners will bring new inception.
In my third journal on the FED project I concluded that it is embedding in the Johanneberg Science Park innovation system with its cornerstones of (1) Interconnecting and networking between participants, (2) emphasis on creating and sharing of knowledge and technology, (3) diversity in financial sources and (4) boosts for business climate, was an extremely important asset. Most of the challenges identified by the UIA for their projects would find their way along the soft/networked infrastructure supplied by the science park. And such has been the case for the last 4 years.
So, if we consider the city Gothenburg and its partners a good place for projects and their creative inception and if we consider Johanneberg Science Park an advanced innovation park where multi-stakeholder projects can be managed and operationalized, then it makes perfect sense for the EU to invest in demonstration projects like these.
The societal perspective on European demonstration projects rooted in the EU’s Lisbon strategy to become the most competitive economy in the world can be seen from the point of a singular project and analysis of its contribution to the mission or theoretically, into an alternative use of the budgets involved.
We can be short on the singular project evaluation. As a proof of concept, the FED project has been simply outstanding.
Unfortunately, it is common knowledge that the implementation of smart grids in Europe is slow. The reasons for this are manifold. The need for smart consumers was tackled in the FED project via the building in which they work and the engaging of businesses that run the building at the campus. The often cited lack of stakeholder engagement, in particular the lack of two-way communication was not the case in the FED project itself due to the business to business character. The attitude of end-users to energy was also not part of the project.
FED did facilitate that all stakeholders could gain, or at least participate on their terms. With regards to funding & incentives all stakeholders had strong business reasons to participate be it for energy efficiency, academic, environmental, or technological innovation reasons. The open market, often a barrier to the implementation of smart grids, was specifically arranged at the (energy law exempted) campus and part of the project, though not easily repeated in non-similar surroundings. There are no clear standards for smart grids yet. The FED itself was more angled at showing the world that something could be done, then on the design of legal standards.