There is enormous potential for reducing energy consumption and emissions in cities, both in buildings themselves and through synergies between buildings, the industrial sector and the transport sector. Research and testing are being carried out at Aspern Seestadt in Vienna to find out how this could work. Aspern is one of the largest areas of urban development in Europe. It is planned that 25,000 people will live here and 20,000 jobs will be created.

Since 2013, an interdisciplinary team at Aspern Seestadt in Vienna has been working on scalable, economical solutions for creating a climate-friendly energy system in urban areas. There are four major research areas: smart building, smart grid, smart ICT (information and communication technologies) and smart users, all of which are concerned with optimally coordinating power generation, distribution, storage and consumption. The research objects are five buildings, each with a different type of use and each equipped with photovoltaics, solar thermal technology, hybrid systems, heat pumps and thermal and electrical storage systems. Around 1.5 million readings per day have been recorded so far using smart meters and a variety of sensors.

The whole new energy world, all in one place

The Aspern Smart City is an excellent example of how the energy system of the future will be a system in which all the components interact and are interlinked. The smarter E Europe 2022 from May 11-13 in Munich with its four international energy exhibitions is the address for all those looking for cross-sector solutions. As part of The smarter E Europe, Europe’s largest platform for the energy industry, EM-Power Europe, together with the three parallel exhibitions Intersolar Europe, ees Europe and Power2Drive Europe, has the new energy world almost completely covered.

EM-Power Europe is all about efficiently combining solar energy and other renewable sources of energy with storage technology and e-mobility. It focuses on decentralized, renewable energy supply, smart grids, energy management, and smart buildings and districts, among other topics. In addition to the exhibitors with their innovative solutions, visitors can expect an exciting and practice-oriented lecture program at EM-Power Europe. Experts from companies and associations will speak on topics such as digitization, smart metering and the integration of prosumers into the electricity market. On May 10 and 11, the EM-Power Conference in Munich will focus on challenges, solutions and visions for the integration of renewable energies into the power grid. How can photovoltaic systems, storage and e-mobility be integrated into our energy systems? And how can we use the flexibility of prosumers for a reliable power supply? These and many other questions will be discussed at the conference.

Transforming energy consumers into mini power plants

In Aspern, the second project phase is currently running until 2023. To mark the halfway point of this phase, the project participants drew up an interim report at the end of 2021. Some of the key areas of focus in the current research activities are the further intelligent networking of buildings, grids and markets, as well as new approaches to heating and cooling buildings. The researchers are also working on a smart charging infrastructure and on how it communicates with the distribution grid operator.

In the future, buildings will become active participants in the energy market: they will generate their own electricity and heat and share it with others. The researchers in Aspern have developed a Building Energy Management System (BEMS) to make it possible to forecast generation and consumption and to optimize consumption within the buildings themselves. This system combines building measurement data with external sources such as the weather report and also connects to the energy market via communication interfaces. Research is currently focusing on using buildings as energy storage and on marketing self-generated power via energy communities. When combined to form virtual power plants, buildings should be able to provide flexibility which contributes to the stability of the grid at short notice in the future.

Intelligent charging: great for the grid, great for users

The researchers are also looking at the effects of the energy transition on the infrastructure of the distribution grid as part of the project. One of their findings is that if 100% of individual transport becomes e-mobility transport, this will require intelligent load management to relieve transformer stations – otherwise these would have to be massively expanded. In the “grid-oriented charging” research area, researchers are testing how buildings that generate power could be used in combination with controllable electromobility loads to compensate for the increasing demand for electricity and ensure that supply keeps up with demand. The smart charging infrastructure set up for this purpose communicates with various other systems, including the building’s BEMS and a microgrid controller. This means there is a large pool of diverse data that can be drawn upon to calculate the best possible charging strategy.