European Union

Smart Cities and Communities Lighthouse projects


To demonstrate solutions at district scale integrating smart homes and buildings, smart grids (electricity, district heating, telecom, water, etc.), energy storage, electric vehicles and smart charging infrastructures as well as latest generation ICT platforms which must be based on open specifications. This should be accompanied by energy efficiency measures and the use of very high shares of renewables at the level of districts. The goal is to facilitate a successful transformation towards intelligent, user-driven and demand-oriented city infrastructures and services.

RFP Summary

Lighthouse cities develop and test integrated innovative solutions at district scale. These lighthouse cities should act as exemplars for their region helping to plan the replication of these solutions, adapted to different local conditions.. Links with the broader Sustainable and Integrated Urban Development Strategies in the framework of the European Structural and Investment Funds should be sought as well as the funds available for the upscaling and replication of the projects (in particular ESIF).
A city can be funded as a lighthouse city only once under Horizon2020.

Technologies must be at least “very near-to-market” (technological readiness levels TRL 7 and more, see part G of the General Annexes). The innovation is in the combination of these technologies.

It is compulsory to develop and test innovative business models that enable deployment at large scale at different locations during the execution of the project.


Significantly improve energy efficiency: Innovative integration of existing buildings with new buildings (especially in areas of mixed use such as university campuses, innovation districts, etc.). Proposals shall group energy efficiency measures by buildings or group of similar buildings in the BEST tables (available at the participant portal).
Incorporate renewable energy sources (RES) maximising the use of local resources (including waste heat, electricity and/or heat storage) and high shares of self-consumption. The active participation of consumers (e.g. use of aggregators) must be demonstrated.
Integrate electricity fuelling infrastructure for electric vehicle fleets. The impact of the deployment of high numbers of vehicles on the electricity grid must be assessed (costs of the recharging infrastructure and the vehicles are not eligible).
Use ICT solutions for improved planning management, control and maintenance of physical urban infrastructures and operational technologies in buildings, energy and transport, and that enable better services for individuals and businesses.
Prove interoperability between software modules to allow an effective management of components and information flows. To this end, and to ensure adaptability as new user requirements and technologies evolve, urban ICT platforms must be based on open specifications, including the data structures and application program interfaces (API). Concerns about security, privacy and confidentiality need to be addressed.
Develop innovative Business Models to demonstrate that both technical and financial risks are low enough for large scale investments in other EU cities with similar characteristics. Deployment plans for the lighthouse cities and quick replication in the follower cities and potentially other cities shall be submitted (and will be part of the evaluation).

Tangible Work Products / Scope of Work

Districts of buildings – old or new or mixed and ideally nearly zero or low energy – that should be chosen in relation to the size of the respective city and the local conditions and should guarantee high positive impact of the project. Each building in such a district shall become smart, more efficient, reliable and well integrated in the energy system of the district. It should feature latest generation ICT, smart meters, smart appliances, smart energy management, smart use of the thermal mass; smart management of cooling (where applicable) etc. and capitalize also on synergies between these single components. These smart buildings shall be integrated to form a smart district with intensive interaction between the buildings for increased synergies and eventually increased efficiency and decreased costs.
Smart interaction and smart management of different energy systems (electricity, heat, cold, gas or other grid systems (including water)) at district level and going far beyond classical electricity grids management only (e.g. smart solutions for storage including the intelligent use of the thermal mass of buildings that exploit synergies between these urban grids in order to increase efficiency and reduce energy costs).
Integration with and/or consolidation of low carbon ICT systems at district level.
Electromobility (in line with Directive 2014/94): smart electrical vehicle (EV) charging (grid to vehicle and vehicle to grid) while ensuring a positive impact on the whole energy system from a technical and economic point of view. The impact of the deployment of EV on locally weak or old grids must be assessed during the project.
Include partners from industry, public authorities, research communities and small and medium-sized enterprises.

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