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Energy turnaround projects were implemented in five neighbourhoods in Baden-Württemberg.


The implementation of Germany’s energy transition in cities and urban districts presents a great challenge. Five years ago, the gauntlet was taken up by the applied research group ENsource (“Urban Energy Systems and Resource Efficiency"), which brought ten universities together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) and the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) and was funded by the state of Baden-Württemberg and the EU with EUR 2.5M. Now the results are in.

ENsource sought to answer complex questions like: How can consumption and feed-in be intelligently coordinated within the network? What is the optimal interplay of renewable energy systems including solar, wind, biogas and combined heat and power in the neighbourhood to achieve 100 percent renewable supply year-round?

Projects were implemented in five neighbourhoods: Mannheim, Stuttgart, Mainau, Rainau and Schwieberdingen, which covered a range of criteria. Concepts and tools were developed and tested there to enable decentralised, flexible energy solutions. Energy plants, storage units, distribution systems and consumers were networked using control systems designed and calibrated to achieve the highest share of renewables.

Critically, the control system developed by ZSW put the power into the hands of the district operators, who were presented with the methods and planning tools but left to decide for themselves which energy mix best-suited their needs and how to implement.

"The orchestration of a neighbourhood only takes place via financial incentive signals and coordinated schedules," explains Dr Jann Binder, project coordinator at the ZSW, in a press release. "This brings about an individual, yet jointly coordinated generation and consumption behaviour in the neighbourhood across sectors."