Steinbeis experts share multifaceted know-how
Ambitious climate goals mean that it will be necessary to implement radical restructuring measures not only in the energy sector, but also in urban infrastructures. Motivated by this insight, in 2018 a group of scientists at Stuttgart Technology University founded LOCASYS-Innovations as a Steinbeis Innovation Center. The Steinbeis experts are currently working on a research project called NeqModPLUS, funded by the Baden-Wuerttemberg Ministry of Economic Affairs. To conduct the project, they are using holistic methodologies.
According to Steinbeis Entrepreneurs Rafal Strzalka and Dietrich Schneider, the goals of the green energy transition in Germany and the cornerstones laid by the Green Deal initiative launched by the EU will only be achievable by adopting a holistic approach to methodologies. This spans all aspects of comprehensive transformation, from an analysis of data right through to technical measures, thus extending far beyond currently propagated analytical tools for urban districts. Motivated by their goal of understanding the potential of made-to-measure restructuring programs, efficiency improvements when it comes to the actual use of renewables, and the introduction of innovative and adaptable supply models to the technical infrastructure, the Steinbeis Enterprise wants to conduct the R&D required to achieve the goals of European energy policy. This includes meeting sustainability criteria, safeguarding the stability of energy supplies during the ongoing expansion of volatile generation capacity, and becoming less dependent on fossil fuel imports.
To implement the results of the project, partnerships will be arranged with commercial stakeholders and scientific bodies, also in order to secure the direct sharing of experience and know-how between the business community on the one hand, and science and academia on the other.
One team, diverse expertise, and many projects
As a Steinbeis Innovation Center, LOCASYS-Innovations has a wealth of experience when it comes to integrating sustainable supply concepts into future-oriented low-energy infrastructure. Its main focus lies in the development of methodologies and instruments to support decision-making processes and the establishment of low-energy districts. Strzalka and Schneider are currently applying this know-how to a research project called NeqModPLUS. The remit of the project, which is funded by the Baden-Wuerttemberg Ministry of Economic Affairs, is to develop methodologies and modeling tools for low-energy districts. These would make it possible to improve the net primary energy consumption of urban infrastructures by up to 70%.
The approach adopted by the Steinbeis experts includes communication within the network of involved stakeholders, the introduction of new collaboration concepts, and the development of new initiatives. This creates favorable conditions for pooling expertise and research output, which can be applied to national, bilateral, and international projects as part of sustainability research. Any R&D expertise acquired as a result of the scientific initiative can be shared on a broader scale under the auspices of projects in industry. The initiatives the Steinbeis experts are working on place emphasis on actual application, spanning everything from optimizations made to public infrastructure used by the municipal utility of Weinstadt, to energy assessments with Bosch, technical monitoring and analytical evaluations of urban campus buildings, and the planning of automated processes used to design energy grids for municipal heating plans. The know-how gained through the different showcase projects will make it possible to plan and implement the sustainable transformation of major district infrastructure systems and deliver significant benefit in terms of energy efficiency and economic viability.
The work being carried out by LOCASYS-Innovations also revolves closely around the development and implementation of system applications to be used in urban infrastructure, which can then be optimized in terms of energy consumption. Working out the patterns of user behavior and the parameters of conditions affecting technical infrastructures also makes it possible to quantify how such factors influence energy consumption and the distribution of resources. Based on these insights, scenarios can be worked out for reducing primary energy consumption and the use of valuable resources. Alternatively, fossil fuels can be replaced by renewables.
One of the main challenges perceived by the Steinbeis experts from Ludwigsburg when it comes to urban infrastructure development lies in the current dearth of suitable tools for tracking things like the greenhouse emissions of major sections of technical infrastructure. Possessing such tools would make it possible to derive measures for cutting emissions. Based on their conclusions, Strzalka and Schneider are currently looking into ways to merge different software approaches and integrate the resulting software into urban transformation strategies such that the methodologies can be applied to actual infrastructure projects.