Miranda do Douro, a municipality in northern Portugal with a population of just under 10,000 people, is the first in a pipeline of more than 100 communities that Cleanwatts plans to launch across Portugal over the coming months. Every renewable energy community developed by Cleanwatts begins with an anchor client and in this case, the Miranda do Douro chapter of Santa Casa da Misericórdia expressed interest in playing this critical role.
Santa Casa da Misericórdia is a Portuguese charity founded in 1498 whose core mission is to support people affected by illness or disability and to take care of abandoned newborns. The organization has expanded beyond Portugal, today employing a global staff of over 45.000 with operations in more than 2000 locations around the world. In Portugal, the charity runs operations in 388 locations, serving 165.000 people every day.
“We are proud to be the first institution with an energy community in Portugal. We believe it is an advantage not only for the institution but also for all members of the surrounding community. Cleanwatts had a very close collaboration with us. Its proposal did not require investment, so I would clearly recommend this option to other institutions, in order to reduce energy costs as well as the carbon footprint.” – Armênio Gomes, Vice-Chairman Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Miranda do Douro.
Energy communities are set to grow exponentially in every region as the world transitions to distributed generation, storage and consumption of clean energy and the electrification of mobility, heating, cooling, and many industrial processes. Digitally enabled decentralized energy networks, commonly referred to as energy communities, address the urgent need to decarbonize society while ensuring that local communities are granted access to affordable clean energy and local network resilience. In Europe, 37% of households are expected to participate in energy communities by 2050, while in the US community solar projects already represent 11% of total power sold across the country and where last year alone an additional 3.1GW of community directed PV capacity was installed.
Designed to address the complex multilayered needs of local energy communities, Cleanwatts combines the benefits of real time energy efficiency with the ability to activate a wide range of local assets (any equipment that generates, consumes, or stores energy) to maximize the value of energy produced, consumed, and stored within a community thereby delivering clean energy at well below the price of conventional electricity.
Cleanwatts OS is modular by design, highly adaptable to different legal frameworks and the specific needs of typical local participants, including commercial real estate and industrial enterprises, single family homes, apartment blocks, municipal buildings, universities, schools, and hospitals. Critically, the platform also carries a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) user interface specifically designed to aggregate a wide range of energy loads to enable market balancing services in support of local grid operators. In this respect, the Cleanwatts approach to serving energy communities is a game changer, providing a simple and flexible solution with intelligent controls designed to process and optimize all local needs in real time, from behind the meter applications to front of the meter local market requirements.
Cleanwatts has been leading the development of energy communities in Portugal since well before the new legal framework, with several pilots under its belt that clearly demonstrated the benefits of the company’s selected approach. The energy community of Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Miranda do Douro is the first one approved under the country’s new legal framework that came into force in 2020. This energy community integrates solar PV capacity installed on several rooftops allowing the organization to lower its own energy expenditures by at least 10% compared versus the standard market price of electricity.
Over the following months, the energy community will grow, incorporating other local energy consumers and prosumers of solar energy for the collective benefit of the community. “We are particularly proud of this landmark achievement, especially given the positive social impact that this transition will have on local citizens. At a time when energy prices are soaring all over Europe, it is important to highlight that energy communities represent an effective solution to two enormous challenges: climate change and energy poverty. Our Operating System is designed to accelerate the benefits of the global energy transition by providing local participants access to affordable and locally sourced clean energy while ensuring resilience and security of supply for the entire community.” – Michael Pinto, CEO and Co-Founder of Cleanwatts.
Cleanwatts is also rolling out its Operating System for energy communities in other key markets across Europe, US and Brazil.