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The activities of the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava prove that Slovakia has all the prerequisites to become a leader in the development of energy communities and positive energy neighbourhoods. Besides the necessary know-how, it has also committed communities of its towns and villages. The cooperation between STU, the city of Trenčín, the Trenčín self-governing region and the Slovak Smart City Cluster may serve as inspiration.

The STU faculties and workplaces provide an example of utilising the possible synergies based on the cooperation of various professional teams and projects with the EU support for the purposes of the development of municipalities, cities and regions, as well as the economy transformation. It is illustrated by the interconnection between the Making City project (supported by the HORIZON 2020 programme) within the Programme of Economic Development and Social Development project for the City of Trenčín and the Trenčín Self-Governing Region, and ERASMUS +, the international educational project.

This interconnection contributes to addressing and demonstrating the transformation of the urban energy system towards smart low-carbon cities and towns based on the concept of a positive energy district. "Energy communities and positive energy neighbourhoods (PEDs) organize collective citizen-led activities paving the way of transition to clean energy, and simultaneously advance the citizens' activities in this area to the priorities of EU support with the aim to achieve a positive energy balance of the city and region, i.e. to produce more energy than they consume, thereby reducing their dependence on external energy sources, " explains Professor Maroš Finka of the STU Institute of Management.

STU in Bratislava introduces to Slovakia the concept of building that contributes to the increased public acceptance of renewable energy projects, and facilitates the attraction of private investment in the transition to clean energy. The energy communities can thereby provide direct benefits to their citizens, municipalities and cities via increasing the energy efficiency of their properties and social and technical infrastructure, and, ultimately, reducing their energy bills. In addition, by encouraging citizen participation, energy communities can help achieve electricity grid flexibility through response to actual demand and storage.

"STU is aware of social responsibility and wants to be a vanguard and an example in reducing its carbon footprint. The University wants to educate responsible students with active involvement in building a sustainable society. STU is an institution with responsible approach the 2030 agenda, "said Maximilian, Vice-Rector for Strategic Projects, Development, Innovation and Practice. The working group initiated and supervised by Associate Professor Strémy elaborates an action plan for implementation of the STU carbon footprint reduction. STU also wants to more intensively collaborate with cities, regions and partners on innovations, and offer its research and proven project output and know-how to improve the environmental and sustainable environment of this country.

The Making City project is complemented by a number of other projects providing detail solutions to individual aspects of building energy communities, such as the APVV project assessing the energy potential of roofs and facades of buildings, or the Interreg DTP project developing the capacity of local government to improve energy security and energy efficiency.

The PED operational models developed within the Making City project and tested in the city of Trenčín will also help other Slovak and European cities implement the necessary energy transformation and sustainable urbanization, while making citizens the actors in the transformation. Economic optimization models show a high return on investment in positive energy communities even without the expected increase in energy prices. The project also indicates the potential of utilising the EU resources to promote synergies between technological, social and environmental innovations that underpin energy communities. "Implementation of projects in various areas of digitization (e.g. long-term energy sustainability) in practice will represent an important basic building block of Slovakia’s direction,  and STU and its faculties, thanks to their pilot projects dealing with future topical issues, are purposefully getting ready for becoming a key member of future public-private partnerships, ” adds Vice-Rector Strémy.

Supported by the Erasmus + program, the project of a student workshop devoted to positive energy neighbourhoods showed how municipalities and cities can contribute to the development of energy communities through better spatial planning of their development. The project prepared by the STU Institute of Management in cooperation with the Technical University of Vienna and the University of Belgrade involved 36 students from seven European countries. In the model area of Trenčín, they demonstrated the possibilities of using various approaches and tools for planning the development of municipality in order to reduce the carbon footprint of its development and functioning.

Foto: makingcity.eu