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22. Jan 2014 - EnEff:Stadt Conference 2014: Research as a laboratory for the energy revolution at a municipal level

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“Community contributions to the energy revolution” is the motto of the second EnEff:Stadt Conference. This is because the local authorities ultimately play a decisive role in implementing the energy revolution in Germany: they determine the supply structures, land use plans and energy-related standards in public buildings, and the use of new technologies and modern planning tools can considerably expand their scope for action. This is precisely the approach taken by the EnEff:Stadt research initiative – by linking energy-based building refurbishment with decentralised municipal supply technologies and by developing new planning methods and tools for urban districts. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has been supporting the efforts since 2007.

New framework conditions and urban potential

At the beginning of the event, Dr Georg Menzen (German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy) emphasised that energy will become even more important in the coming legislative period. In addition to this, the responsibilities and technical programmes are to be restructured to overcome the current fragmentation. The consensus is that the energy revolution consists primarily in increasing efficiency, in addition to integrating renewable energy sources. He added that its goals cannot be achieved through innovations alone. Testing and a widespread market launch are the keys to success. Among others, these processes are being advanced impressively by the EnEff:Stadt research initiative and its broad range of projects and stakeholders.

In his introductory presentation, Heiner Farwick, the new President of the Association of German Architects (BDA) explained that cities are the main causes of the climate problem and also have the potential to influence the energy revolution. He added that holistic municipal strategies are necessary, entailing a change of paradigm from individual buildings to entire districts. There are many good reasons for this. However, many questions remain unanswered when it comes to specific implementation: How can we make the energy turnaround in districts a success – both in terms of construction and environment, and socially? How can the many stakeholders get involved? How can the change processes be managed? Who is responsible for the new development? Architects and urban planners play a key role here. In addition, there are factors such as adequate political framework conditions, a tailored subsidy policy, qualified authorities, holistic concepts and innovative projects which create good examples. He presented some of these from his own practice. In Heiner Farwick’s opinion, the trinity of city, architecture and energy is the main key to implementing the energy revolution.

How can we shape the energy revolution? Three perspectives, three interests

The subsequent discussion on “Buildings, districts and cities”, chaired by Jürgen Pöschk, dealt with the new requirements for energy research. The work must focus on processes, not technology. Brief statements explained what was meant by that. For example, Bernd Düsterdiek, speaking for the Deutscher Städte- und Gemeindebund (German Association of Towns and Municipalities), explained that the energy revolution must focus on local authorities. Nationwide, they have approx. 176,000 municipal buildings, and roughly half of municipal energy consumption is accounted for by schools, day care centres and sports facilities. They generate energy via their municipal utility companies, are involved in developing districts, commercial and open spaces as planning authorities, and are the closest political entity to the citizens. However, to become successful, climate protection must be made the number one priority there. And coordinated concepts for integrated urban development are required. In addition to this, the local authorities urgently need help: For example, in North Rhine-Westphalia, almost half of all cities and communities are operating under budgetary supervision. Enhanced incentives through subsidies can help – even in urban development. That also applies to the many rural communities. In spite of increasing urbanisation, 60% of the population still lives in rural areas.

At the start of his contribution, Stefan Grützmacher, Chairman of the Board of Berlin-based GASAG, looked at the term “energy revolution”: This is more than just the “electricity revolution” many people believe it is. After all, we are only starting. For example, in Berlin, the heating market is driving changes. This creates promising new business opportunities for local and regional suppliers, e.g. as contractors or suppliers of heat services for refurbishment of existing buildings. The GasagWärme service is just one facet of the new opportunities. In addition to its core responsibilities, the supply company also wants to position itself as an energy manager in Berlin and Brandenburg – as a provider of multi-media energy concepts and an implementation partner for local authorities.

The real estate company ABG Frankfurt is considered by many experts in the industry as a builder of passive houses. Director Frank Junker focuses in particular on the economic benefits of this concept for all involved. For ABG, these are low operating costs, less vacancy risks and of course higher revenue forecasts; the benefits for tenants come in the form of reduced rent levels when utilities are included. Ultimately, the increased investment for passive houses is currently just 5 – 8 percent higher than comparable new buildings in accordance with EnEV 2009. However, not all ABG new building and refurbishment projects stick to the passive house concept. Besides demand, the location and rent level are key determining factors for the construction and energy standard.

The discussion centred in particular on the unanswered questions of the energy revolution debate in addition to the pros and contras of returning grids and generation systems to the public sector. Is it already priority number one? Should climate neutrality of existing buildings be a binding goal? Will the local authorities have a new role as coordinators of stakeholders? And where will political support and scientific expertise be required, and to what end?

From DACH to ISIS, from Aachen to Weimar...

In addition to the keynote presentations, there were two guided tours of the poster exhibition. Heike Erhorn-Kluttig from Fraunhofer IBP and Dr Peter Bretschneider from Fraunhofer IOSB presented the posters of selected research projects from EnEff:Stadt and EnEff:Wärme. They were grouped in 8 subjects and areas of application: from international projects to planning aids. The pilot project managers then answered questions in the Eichensaal (Oak Hall).

High tech, slow food and songs

On the afternoon of the first day, a bus tour to the site of the EnEff:Stadt project in Berlin-Adlershof was offered. At five stations on the commercial, scientific and media location, experts reported on the BTB thermal power plant, the centre for photovoltaics and renewable energy, the physics building of the Humboldt University with its climate facade for temperature regulation, the market environment of photovoltaic pioneer Solon, the projects of Younicos AG and Berliner Elektronenspeicherring (BESSY). The tour was followed by an evening event with cultural elements. Before that, Prof. Dr Felix Ziegler from TU Berlin presented the “Energy Efficiency Berlin-Adlershof 2020” project. After an aside on the almost overused term “flagship project”, he explained his commitment to the vision “no heat flows without economic benefits” – a vision in a system which cannot become reality without integrating flexible storage options. It was the inspiration for the project goals at the Adlershof technology park. Together with the combined expertise of 50 energy technology companies and institutes, the project organisers succeeded in drawing up an energy efficiency action plan which is to be implemented by 2018. The measures involved range from energy management and open thermal networks to innovative building cooling.

Theory is grey, and overall consumption is the key

The second day of the conference started with initial multi-project analyses by the EnEff:Stadt support research team on “Buildings and districts”. Hans Erhorn from Fraunhofer IBP emphasised the importance of districts compared with individual building solutions. Their frequently complex building and use structure can render suitable solutions difficult, but also offers synergy effects – not only financially, but also in the actual interaction of the different consumers. The average consumption of the buildings, the overall consumption, is the key. This often requires lower investments, which can also result in lower consumption costs. Erhorn gave an overview of the range of EnEff:Stadt demonstration projects, their composition and typification. He described the energy level of the projects, the technologies used and special building and infrastructure measures. For example, all projects feature thermal networks; 64% use local heating solutions and 36% district heating. An energy evaluation of 10 selected projects based on initial reliable mathematical and measurement results resulted in statements on how the projects are achieving the EnEff:Stadt primary energy efficiency requirements (reduction by over 30%). The initial summary on this is that the average primary energy demand is decreasing more than 60% and the final energy demand for generating heat is decreasing by more than 40%. The electricity demand is decreasing and is also being replaced by local renewable energy sources. However, there is no ideal solution, as a result of which the support research team urgently recommends concept studies before specifying the district strategy – e.g. with the support of the EnEff:Stadt energy concept adviser for urban districts. Detailed measures and effects from three selected projects were then presented.

Hans-Otto Kraus, CEO of Münchner GWG presented the successful energy refurbishment and redensification of the Lilienstrasse Nord district in Munich-Haidhausen, in a video. The objective was a CO2-neutral heat supply and reduction of the primary energy consumption by 50% compared with the target value for a new building. 70% of the heating supplied to the apartments built in the 1960s now comes from shallow geothermal energy. The last construction stage will be completed in March 2014.

Renate Bräu from Freiburger Stadtbau GmbH described the refurbishment in the Weingarten West district, built between 1965 and 1968, with a total of 1,200 apartments, some of which in highly compact construction. The starting points for the project were rising rent and utility costs, and an ageing population structure. The refurbishment was explicitly linked to a social aim: reduction of energy consumption and utility costs with affordable rent. The pilot project was undoubtedly the refurbishment of the high-rise building in Bugginger Strasse 50, with the objective of 15 kWh/m² p.a. thermal energy consumption, i.e. passive house standard. The satisfying result was that the forecast energy consumption was met and the residents are happy, thanks to comprehensive social support.

Martin Mölders of the Max-Zöllner-Stiftung Weimar presented the “Altes Zöllnerviertel” model project. It was intended to demonstrate the feasibility of a highly efficient energy refurbishment of old buildings in a mixed-structure inner-city area. The basis was the production of an energy concept for the Altes Zöllnerviertel district, which was to bring about a maximum energy efficiency supply of the district based on renewable energy, possibly including cogeneration and the establishment of a local heating network. This was supplemented by energy refurbishment of the real estate portfolio of the Max-Zöllner-Stiftung and individual new buildings to the passive house standard. After a comprehensive inventory process, initial energy balances were produced and total energy savings of 56% were calculated.

New York, Rio, Tokyo

The next item on the agenda offered a broader horizon. Dr Reinhard Jank from the EnEff:Stadt support research team presented a selection of international urban energy and climate protection projects, as well as an overview of international community activities – from the International Climate Alliance, the European Energy Award (eea), EU and IEA programmes, to the DACH cooperation project. The EU HORIZON 2020 programme is new. It replaces and simplifies older subsidy programmes from December 2013 on. In the energy subsidy area, the “Smart Cities & Communities” topic will be funded with 700 million euros. As an international activity of EnEff:Stadt, the IEA EBC Annex 51 “Case Studies and Guidelines for Energy Efficient Communities” was compiled from 2009 to 2013. One of the results is a “Guidebook on Successful Urban Energy Planning” based on over 20 case studies evaluated in 11 partner countries. One of these case studies – Aarhus in Denmark – was presented in detail. The “DACH cooperation” between the cities of Karlsruhe, Salzburg and Winterthur is a highly topical example of international cooperation. The success of urban projects to date will be measured and evaluated by the end of 2014, with the support of the appropriate federal ministries in the three countries.

Future networks – Ways to the optimal supply solution

Carsten Beier from the Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT, and project manager of the EnEff:Stadt support research, introduced the second part of the interdisciplinary analyses: “Energy infrastructure – networks and storage”. Starting with the questions “Why districts?” and “What can districts contribute to the energy revolution?” his presentation focused on district energy supply and the use of existing systems. An initial look at the projects already reveals that a wide range of supply technologies are used. On the one hand, the planners have to deal with an increased complexity. On the other, this creates opportunities through more plant combinations – such as greater price independence, more revenue sources and greater flexibility in operational management. The individual district configuration and the way to the optimal supply solution are the keys. The advantages and disadvantages of a central energy supply for residential blocks or districts must be evaluated carefully and integrated in a planning process which permits alternatives. Currently, this includes in particular decentralised feed-in to the heating networks from renewable sources.

The community of Wüstenrot near Heilbronn proved that rural areas have potential for energy saving campaigns, in spite of the controversial goal of energy autonomy by 2020. Dr Dirk Pietruschka from Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences made this clear. As part of the EnVisaGe project, a durable roadmap for making Wüstenrot an energy-autonomous and energy-plus community by 2020 is being developed and embodied in an energy usage plan for Wüstenrot. An energy-plus housing estate is being implemented as a model, which will have cold local heating provided via an agrothermal power plant and intelligent load management. The measures will be evaluated via advanced monitoring until 2016.

The “Modellstadt 25+ Lampertheim” project focuses on the development of a planning tool – that was emphasised by Stefan Krengel from RWTH Aachen. It is intended to optimise future power supply systems technically and economically. It will support the creation of holistic energy concepts or concept versions for typical districts, and allow derivation of standardised solutions. Development and validation of models are to make the project transferable to over 300 medium-sized towns in Germany. The planning tool will be developed using Lampertheim as an example: with an inventory of individual buildings, suggestions for optimised power supply solutions and an analysis of electricity grids. The results will be integrated in specific recommended measures for individual buildings and districts and an information base for the town.

The “Smart Area Aachen” project looks beyond heating to the future of electricity supply systems. It researches technical solutions for future grid-connected operations at the medium- and low-voltage level as examples. According to Dr Andreas Nolde from BET in Aachen, the challenge for grid operators in future will be the shift in electricity generation from the transmission to the distribution grid level via fluctuating decentralised feed-in. This will make new demands of grid-connected operation – e.g. a highly dynamic grid utilisation – which will result in a wide range of load scenarios. Either grid modification, expansion or new intelligent grid-connected operation solutions are required (smart grid). The “Smart Area Aachen” joint project is intended to establish a system of power supply and communication technology, and develop the concepts required for control, regulation and grid operational management.

From the individual project to the masses

Albert Geiger, Head of the Sustainable Urban Development department of the City of Ludwigsburg, described important impulses for the transition from individual projects to the masses from the point of view of a community practitioner. Success in individual community projects can be achieved in cooperation with politics and science. He added that the EnEff:Stadt research initiative was proof of this. But how can more towns and municipalities be motivated to start projects and network with each other? In terms of overall general policy, that particularly means utilising the local potential – in Ludwigsburg that includes, for example, the long-standing experience with redevelopment projects and participative processes in the urban and district development. Ultimately, the community is the level closest to the citizens. “This is where majorities are created in social debates such as those on climate protection.” However, Geiger believes that a new approach is required in the municipal administration: They also need to cover more aspects, supplement proven principles and become even more professional to become expert partners for business, for example. This is because these days investors demand sustainable framework conditions from local authorities, including in the energy field. Urban development and climate protection concepts or the municipal Energy Master Plan provide excellent references in this regard. They stand for clear goals, planning security and binding action for all stakeholders. However, the decisive factor for success is public participation. You have to talk with the citizens: without requiring a specific occasion, but not without content!

Developing EnEff:Stadt as a support concept

At the end of the second EnEff:Stadt Conference, the “first major energy policy event in the new legislative period”, Dr Rodoula Tryfonidou of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, drew an initial conclusion: It was important to meet and discuss strategies – in particular given the new German national energy policy. For example, it prioritises energy efficiency to a greater extent. The coalition agreement mentions energy research as an important energy policy tool for the first time – in conjunction with the responsibility of focusing it consistently on the energy revolution and introducing new interdisciplinary and system-oriented research approaches. The EnEff:Stadt research initiative is an example of this: With its topics from various disciplines, its scientific expertise and its interdisciplinarity, it epitomises innovation in practical testing with networking of all stakeholders – a “test laboratory of the energy revolution”. To meet the new requirements, the EnEff:Stadt support concept is to be evaluated and developed. That involved future communication of urban energy research, the subsidy instruments and networking mechanisms and the required involvement of the Federal States, international aspects and supporting scientific research equally. Dr Tryfonidou thanked the institutions involved for the successful organisation of the conference and the speakers, project managers and all participants for their expert contributions.

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