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Sector Coupling for Smart Cities

#SmartCities #SectorCoupling #SustainableBuildings

Digitalization offers new opportunities in the energy industry. Particular potential is offered by a sector coupling of the areas electricity, heating and cooling, industry and transport. Develope innovative concepts with Vattenfall that use existing infrastructures and buildings for an efficient and sustainable energy supply in order to take an important step towards the goal of "fossil free in one generation".

  • ✅ Challenge completed
  • 🏁 Winner
    Congrats Guardians of the Energy & Team Zector
  • 🏆  Rewards
    15,000 € prize pool in the overall DE 4.0 project + invitation to the Federal Chancellery + promotion of further implementation + chance for further cooperation with Vattenfall
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Use Case is part of the DEUTSCHLAND 4.0 Challenge

Status Quo

As an established infrastructure company, Vattenfall's approach is to promote the topic of sector coupling and to contribute its existing expertise in the field to the development of a Smart City.

The networking of the electricity, heating and cooling, industry and transport sectors requires a fundamental rethinking of the way in which energy is generated, distributed and consumed in the future. Sector coupling follows an integral approach across all sectors, which leads to the following advantages:

First, it enables all sectors of the economy to be decarbonized with the help of renewable energies.

Secondly, the intelligent coupling of sectors by means of certain energy-efficient technologies such as heat pump heating, CHP systems, refrigeration systems, various storage options or electric cars allows a significant reduction in energy consumption.

Thirdly, sector coupling, and thus the use of large and inexpensive energy storage facilities outside the electricity sector (P2X), so-called functional electricity storage facilities, creates great flexibility in the demand for electrical energy, with which the fluctuations of the supply-dependent renewable energies such as wind energy and solar energy can be balanced without having to invest too much in expensive electrical energy storage facilities.

At the same time, sector coupling thus increases energy security.


These advantages result in a question of great relevance to society, the environment, and the economy:

How can the sector coupling of electricity, heating and cooling, industry and transport succeed to create a sustainable and fossil-free Smart City of the future?

How can the sector coupling be realized not only for newly developed areas, but especially for existing older buildings, which make up a large part of the buildings supplied?

Due to the supply by Vattenfall in Berlin of almost 1.3 million household equivalents with district heating, there is a suitable infrastructure to actively promote sector coupling in the building sector.  

This is not only about the energy/heat transition as a whole, but also about the question of how sector coupling can be derived microeconomically, or what concrete actions can be derived from it.

The availability of smart meters on both the power and heat sides plays a key role in meeting the requirements of short-term demand-response networking.

At present existing buildings are from usual building age class (e.g. 1960's), however not or little reorganized (e.g. insulated, windows) - the energy class thus rather in the range C. The current heating is powered by gas/oil central heating and central warm water. 

The main stakeholders are the respective communities/municipalities and administrations and politicians. At the same time, customers, i.e. mainly the housing associations and property cooperatives, expect affordable, safe and comfortable energy solutions for every day use.

The target image is therefore cost-optimized energy supply with maximum local energy generation/integration to ensure an optimum between costs and CO2 reduction/sustainability.

Central is thus, how one can combine the two energy sources heat and electricity in the best possible way regarding the background of a sector coupling (keyword P2H/heat pump and storage media). The biggest challenge is to heat the building with existing infrastructure.

Still questions or looking for inspiration?

You are looking for inspiration and want to learn methods to develop an innovative idea for this or any other use case?

Then take part in one of our freely accessible and digital workshops, which we offer throughout this project, and let experienced innovation coaches e.g. from Lufthansa Group show you approaches like Design Thinking and similar methodologies!

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