Aspern Smart City Research (ASCR) conducts one of the most innovative and sustainable energy efficiency demonstration projects in Europe. Apart from the size and constellation of the research association – municipal organisations and the industry – the integrative approach stands out particularly. Using real data, the association investigates complex relationships instead of single elements.
The research association ASCR was founded by Siemens AG Austria (44.1%), Wien Energie GmbH (29.95%), Wiener Netze GmbH (20%) and the City of Vienna (Wirtschaftsagentur Wien 4,66%, Wien 3420 Holding GmbH, 1,29%). A co-operation model of this magnitude has so far been unique. More than 100 persons from different scientific disciplines are directly involved in this research project.
In this joint venture, technical solutions for the future of energy are being developed in the real life environment of a newly established urban development area with real end consumers. The project is centred around building automation and the use of energy flexibility of the buildings on the energy market – all with the involvement of “smart users”. Furthermore, optimal methods for the assessment of the grid condition and grid planning are developed. All solutions are based on a comprehensive ICT, for which the appropriate big data models are developed and tested.
ASCR won the international World Smart City Award as “Best Smart Project 2016”. The Viennese research project was thus able to prevail among 250 participants from 49 countries.
Goals of ASCR
The basic goal of the ASCR is to develop solutions for the energy future in urban areas and to make our energy systems more efficient and climate friendly. In order to achieve this, the ASCR has been researching real life data from the urban development area “aspern Seestadt” since 2013. Thus what is being tested today in an urban development area, will tomorrow be possible in the whole city.
By integrating different types of buildings (school campus, student housing, residential buildings), the energy supply system together with information and communication technology and users – the test field offers unique possibilities for energy research. The results provide information about what is technically possible and how modern technologies are adopted by the users.
The input of the smart users, i.e. the 111 households participating in the research project, provides a daily practice check. The findings from the user data are the key to the development of market-oriented, customer-friendly solutions for energy suppliers, such as Wien Energie. The ASCR therefore deals with practical application research, which benefits the city of Vienna and its inhabitants.
Three buildings – a residential building, a dormitory for students and an educational campus (currently kindergarten and elementary school) – form the ASCR’s smart building research objects. Equipped with photovoltaic installations, solar thermal systems, hybrid systems, heat pumps, as well as various thermal and electrical storage systems, the buildings of tomorrow are a real prosumer. They do not only consume energy, but also produce and store it. Complex ICT systems enable the optimal distribution, usage, storage and transmission of energy. A key aspect of the ASCR is to optimize its own consumption in the building. Today’s building optimization systems lack a substantial component: they cannot look into the future yet. This is about to change. Intelligent building control systems are designed to anticipate the prospective energy demand, taking into account the weather forecast and other data. They can also provide information on the condition of certain building units and help to plan maintenance measures.
ASCR Research Fields
Twelve network stations, 24 transformers and numerous sensors are the basic infrastructure of the ASCR smart grid testbed. This alone does not make the power grid intelligent, but the ASCR examines how a transition from the classic network to an intelligent network can be accomplished with such a setup. The aim is to reduce costs for future grids, to increase the number of renewable sources and to create a sustainable, secure platform between the prosumer, the building and the market.
The users represent a particularly important component of ASCR’s research activities. Ultimately, it depends on them how much energy the building needs. 111 households (> 50%) explicitly agreed that their energy consumption and room control data (electricity, hot and cold water, room temperature, room air quality, etc.) is used for research purposes. The cooperation with the users is continuously accompanied through workshops and interviews.
Smart Home Control App
Users and researchers equally benefit from the ASCR’s Smart Home Control App: 111 households from the residential development area Seestadt provide ASCR with their energy data. Since 2017, they have been able to control their energy consumption on the smartphone or tablet – using a specially developed Smart Home Control App. The mobile application brings not only a comfort gain for the users, but also gives important insights for energy research.
Electricity and heating can be used more ecologically and economically with just a few clicks – from the couch or the subway. Together with software experts from EMAKINA, the Viennese research association has developed an app that allows users to control their energy consumption, heating, ventilation and sockets at any time. Thus the heating can for example be turned on comfortably during the trip home from winter holidays, or one can quickly switch off all sockets on the way to work – a simple and practical way to save energy.
The data generated by the app play an important role in the research results of the ASCR. Through the app they gain real data, that give new insights into user behaviour. After evaluating the data, it is now possible for the first time to precisely understand whether and how the users use the control options to actively reduce their energy consumption. The research is thus subjected to a genuine practical check. Finally, the goal is to develop customer-friendly market solutions.
In January 2018, the ASCR project was extended by five years until 2023. The project partners provided another 45 million euros for this period. During the second phase, new buildings have to be found and the research questions are redefined. In addition to the deepening of research in the field of smart buildings and smart grids, the digitalisation of the entire energy system will become even more of a focus. With the extension of the project the area of e-mobility will now also be included.
Aspern Smart City Research Gmbh & Co KG (ASCR)
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