On December 16, German Federal Minister of Economics and Technology Peter Altmaier handed over the funding notification for the first "Real Lab of the Energy Transition". The project "SmartQuart" started in January 2020 and RWTH Aachen University is represented by the Chair of Building and Indoor Climate Technology (EBC), the Chair of Energy Efficient Construction (E3D) and the Chair of Real Estate Project Development (iPE).
SmartQuart is the first real laboratory of the energy transition, which brings innovative technologies into application and tests them on an industrial scale and under real conditions. The SmartQuart research project is being carried out by a consortium that brings together all the key players in a neighborhood, from planning to users and energy supply. The central project goal is the demonstration and holistic evaluation of energy-optimized neighborhoods for a decentralized energy and heat transition.
SmartQuart is intended to show that the linking of the energy, heating and mobility sectors within a neighborhood and in interaction with neighboring neighborhoods, which is important for the energy transition, is already technically and economically possible today. Essen and Bedburg in North Rhine-Westphalia and Kaisersesch in Rhineland-Palatinate together form this real laboratory. They represent quarters typical of Germany, from highly dense urban to rural areas.
In the sub-project "Holistic potential analysis and evaluation", the possibilities and limits of energy-optimized neighborhood planning, implementation and use are being investigated. The transferability of developed neighborhood and energy supply concepts will be tested and researched comprehensively for different locations in the real laboratory. Relevant requirements and framework conditions are scientifically investigated and derived for a Germany-wide scalability.
Participation and the associated involvement of central stakeholders in the neighborhoods is of elementary importance for the success of SmartQuart and the energy transition. Through various participation and dialog formats, such as events and advisory councils, citizens and interested parties have the opportunity to actively participate in the project and in the energy transition. Surveys are used to record opinions and needs, but also obstacles and concerns about implementation, and to investigate factors influencing acceptance. The aim is to develop needs-oriented solutions for buildings and neighborhoods by involving all stakeholders involved in the energy transition - from residents and users to planning architects and operators - so that they are accepted and approved by the majority of society.