In July 2019, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier announced the winners of the “regulatory sandboxes for the energy transition” competition. SmartQuart is the first of the selected consortia to be launched. In light of this, today Federal Minister Altmaier presented the grant notification to the project coordinator, innogy SE. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) hopes to use the regulatory sandboxes for the energy transition to accelerate the process of translating innovations into practical applications.
The SmartQuart regulatory sandbox has locations in Essen and Bedburg in North Rhine-Westphalia, as well as in Kaisersesch in Rhineland-Palatinate, which represent typical town and city neighbourhoods in densely populated rural and urban areas. This means that the concepts developed for these neighbourhoods can be transferred to others in future. The project locations will see a decentralized, sustainable, and economical energy supply implemented in and between neighbourhoods. Implementation will involve central, local stakeholders, from residents to energy suppliers and local technology providers.
Optimizing energy flows
One of the project’s goals is to intelligently optimize the energy flows in the neighbourhoods. To achieve this, systems within and between the neighbourhoods will be aggregated and utilized. Many individual solutions in combination – such as buffer storage, sector coupling facilities, mobility, and a load management system within individual neighbourhoods – will be integrated systematically. This will be supported by features such as a digital neighbourhood management system, as well as a central control unit to provide optimal control of the neighbourhood. It is expected that all these measures will lead to significant improvements in efficiency.
Hydrogen infrastructure under construction
In addition, the stakeholders at the neighbourhood level in Kaisersesch will establish a sustainable hydrogen infrastructure. This will include a hydrogen-based microgrid with a demonstration of the entire renewable energy value chain in the heating, electricity, mobility, and industrial sectors. In Bedburg and in Essen’s “Literaturquartier” scheme, wind farms and photovoltaic plants in the local area will provide renewable electricity for the heating and power supply directly. In addition, pure H2 pipelines will distribute hydrogen to end users in the heating, electricity, and mobility sectors.
Regulatory sandboxes for the energy transition
This is where innovations are trialled in a real-world environment and blueprints for the transformation of the energy system are developed. The “regulatory sandboxes for the energy transition” put innovative technologies into application and test how they interact with each other – in concrete terms, on an industrial scale, and under real-world conditions – in a neighbourhood, a city, multiple cities, or even across multiple federal states. The practical experience gathered in this way can then be used to considerably advance the fundamental transformation of the energy system in Germany overall.
A detailed project description of SmartQuart can be found here.