Energy Solutions Design for Eco-districts


Transforming a traditional ski resort into a model of sustainability


When: To be confirmed.
Where: Grenoble Institute of Technology (INP Grenoble), France


Sustainable urban districts of the future

In the area around Grenoble in France, local businesses and politicians are working with some of InnoEnergy’s most innovative start-ups to create a more sustainable urban model – and in the process are transforming the traditional Chamrousse ski station into a smart, connected Alpine resort.

The goal is to create a fully connected region that meets the challenges presented by ecological, climatic, energy and technological transition. Building strong links between the metropolitan valley and its natural, Alpine environment, the Chamrousse project is fast becoming a model for integrated and sustainable development for eco-districts of the future.


What’s happening at Chamrousse?

The Chamrousse project is looking at ways to deploy a variety of alternative sources of energy on site. This includes solar photovoltaics, solar thermal panels, a green electricity network, combined heat and power (CHP), heat networks powered by biomass boilers, and heat recovery systems run on grey water. The project’s participants are exploring the best ways to manage each of these individual, but integrated, energy sources – and to create a carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative footprint for the entire region.

In addition, project participants at Chamrousse are exploring how intelligent transport systems, including a mix of electric vehicles and urban tolls, can improve sustainability and quality of life for residents. The project is also developing a number of services to increase the appeal of the area as a destination for digital tourism – and boost the number of non-seasonal visitors from across Europe.


Your role at Chamrousse

The smart, connected Alpine resort at Chamrousse is a unique field of experimentation for PhD candidates and is an opportunity to work on specific challenges related to sustainable energy. By participating in this course, you get to choose a specific challenge to work on in a group with your fellow researchers and local entrepreneurs.

The challenge projects cover the following five essential fields:

  • Energy storage in its various forms in order to maximise the use of solar photovoltaics in the region
  • Improving the sustainability of local transport, including electric vehicles, the public bus network that connects the region, and the local cable cars.
  • How best to heat new and restored buildings through co-generation (combined heat and power) and heat networks powered by biomass boilers
  • Smart energy systems and the electricity infrastructure across the region
  • Digital platforms that enable ‘intelligence’ to be added to energy systems while protecting data, assets and energy supply.

What makes this course stand out is the chance to have your solutions integrated into the project, where appropriate, and to make a direct contribution to the implementation of the smart resort.


Hands-on experience

Through debates, conferences and workshops and, of course, the hands-on work of your particular challenge, you will:

  • Discover the fundamental principles of design thinking, develop your analytical and decision-making capabilities, and expand your creative problem-solving abilities.
  • Develop your understanding of the economical, ecological and social challenges arising from the installation of decentralised energy resources and increased use of renewables in the energy mix.
  • Learn about the limitations placed on further integration of renewable energy sources in local grids, including grid integrity, maintaining security of supply, regulatory constraints, data security, and privacy protections.
  • Learn to design and apply the appropriate methods for smart energy distribution in various related settings and use cases, and explain how these methods can best be deployed.
  • Develop practical and technical skills relevant to your particular challenge and to your own area of research.


Your week in France

This course applies the design-thinking method to the project at Chamrousse. You gain hands-on experience of developing and testing new perspectives, new tools, and new approaches to one of the very real, complex, and varied challenges involved in developing the smart resort.

During the first two days, you will spend the morning participate in interactive debates and conferences which will give you the basic understanding of the goals of the Chamrousse project, how principles of sustainable development are applied in real life, and how energy transition can be applied to cities and residential areas. Then it’s a visit to the Chamrousse station itself, where you will have the chance to interview the project’s various public and private stakeholders – and its end-users.

Then it’s back to Grenoble INP to work on your challenge with your new colleagues from across Europe. This is your chance to share you’re the perspectives you have gained from your own thesis work, and gain insights from others in a multi-disciplinary environment. This is your chance to bring entrepreneurial thinking and innovative ideas to the fore, to mix creativity with rigour, and personal autonomy with cross-cultural teamwork.

You’ll also learn how to present your challenge and its solution on the project’s own wiki. Experts will be available throughout the week to answer your questions and help you solve your particular challenge.

Finally, you and your team get the chance to present your solution to a jury of InnoEnergy experts, and Chamrousse project leaders.


Added extras

There are plenty of opportunities to socialize with your fellow participants in the project. On the first evening, there is a welcome cocktail party where you can meet your fellow participants, the mayor of Chamrousse, members of the local start-up community, and senior officers from InnoEnergy France. There’s also a dinner in Chamrousse, a wine-tasting session, and plenty of other opportunities for socialising and networking throughout the week.


Course leaders

  • Karine Samuel, Professor in Management Sciences at Grenoble INP.

Karine is responsible for MANINTEC, a selective programme dedicated to the acquisition of specific knowledge on the management of technological innovation. Karine is in charge of research and teaching of creativity at Grenoble INP and drives the innovation aspects of the Energy Solutions Design for Eco-districts course.

Each team on the course is supervised by one of the following coaches:

  • Yann Bultel, professor at Grenoble INP in the field of Energy storage
  • Raphaël Caire, associate professor at Grenoble INP in the field of smart grids
  • Samuel Siedel, associate professor at Grenoble INP in the field of thermodynamics and heat exchange
  • Stephane Ploix, professor at Grenoble INP in the field of smart grids
  • Jean-Philippe Poirot, doctor engineer at CEA in the field of hydrogen


Practical information

When to attend: You can attend at any time during your research programme
Pre-course preparation: None
Post-course assignments: None
ECTS credits: This course is worth 2 ECTS credits