Limerick aims to be ‘lighthouse’ for smart cities as part of €6.5m EU project

9 Jul 2018

The Living Bridge at the University of Limerick. Image: Image: glic83/Shutterstock

The city of Limerick has won a considerable amount of funding as part of a new EU smart cities project spread over the next five years.

Horizon 2020 continues to fund a number of major Irish research projects, the latest being the +CityxChange project for the development of smart cities. This will see Limerick city secure €6.5m to develop a series of demonstration projects on how to become energy-positive.

For the next five years, the city will work with Trondheim in Norway and five other follower cities: Alba Iulia in Romania, Písek in the Czech Republic, Sestao in Spain, Smolyan in Bulgaria and Võru in Estonia.

The full project is set to receive €20m in total. By winning its grant, Limerick will become the first Irish ‘lighthouse smart city’ – one that will develop and test integrated innovative solutions at district scale and act as advisers for its region and other cities and regions across Europe.

Its focus will be on the development of new ‘community grid’ systems including the use of smart meters and new energy sources such as hydrokinetic energy and storage, as well as digital tools and citizen participation, to create districts capable of generating more energy than they consume.

‘An outstanding opportunity’

Based in the city centre’s Georgian Innovation District, the project will be led by Limerick City and County Council with Irish partners including the Limerick Clare Energy Agency, Innovate Limerick, the University of Limerick, IES R&D, Smart MPower, ESB Innovation and ESB Networks, Space Engagers, GKinetic Energy, and Future Analytics Consulting.

Contract negotiations will now take place between Limerick and its partners, with the project set to begin in 2019. The final two years will be spent evaluating and monitoring the outcomes of the projects.

“This is an outstanding opportunity for Limerick to lead at an international level on the creation of positive-energy areas. The Georgian Innovation District will enable us to co-create the future we want to live in,” said Rosie Webb, lighthouse city leader for Limerick City and County Council.

“In Limerick, we will specifically look at adapting our historic city centre to enable citizens to play a key role in this new sharing and exchange model of energy consumption.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic