Aspern Seestadt – Vienna’s Smart City Energy Testbed

Smart energy technologies are being tested in three buildings and on the LV grid at Aspern Seestadt.
Published: Tue 24 Nov 2015

Aspern Seestadt is a new mixed use urban development taking place on the old city airfield, used up to the end of World War II, about 25 minutes drive to the northeast of central Vienna.

Intended as a pathway to the city of the future, the 240ha site is slated to provide a living environment for approximately 20,000 people and workplaces for a similar number, along with accompanying facilities such as schools, shops and restaurants. However, with greater demand for residential accommodation than workspace in Vienna, this may change.

The development, which was launched in 2008 and is due for completion in 2028, is at a relatively early stage. Arriving there, cranes and other signs of development are very much in evidence, with little to suggest any ‘smart’ credentials.

Much of the focus of the development so far has fringed the artificial lake, which was excavated to provide building material, with low-rise buildings – typically of 6 floors – designed and built by different developers. Since September 2014, more than 6,000 people have taken up residence there and the underground/metro line has been extended for travel into the city.

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Smart city energy testbed

While ‘green’ principles are incorporated in the design of Aspern Seestadt with the aim to achieve a “good work-life balance” in terms of public space utilization, the ‘smart’ aspects of the development are focused primarily on building utilization and transportation.

As such it is being use as a testbed for the development of a ‘future-proof energy system’ that could form the foundation of smart city concepts, based on a smart grid, smart buildings and smart consumers, with an underpinning smart ICT system.

To undertake this task a €38.3 million joint venture, Aspern Smart City Research (ASCR), has been formed by Vienna’s energy supplier Wien Energie, the network operator Wiener Netze, Siemens, the developer Wien 3420 and the Vienna Business Agency.

Energy infrastructure R&D

The testbed is focussed on three buildings with different users and the Aspern Seestadt distribution system.

In the smart user and smart building domains the focus is on optimizing the energy use and costs and including the building as an active participant in the energy market. Various technologies in different combinations are being tested in the buildings, while approximately 100 households are participating as smart users:

• Student lodgings (for 300 students): PV (250kW), battery (120kWh), electrical water heating (two x 8kW)

• Residential building with 213 apartments: seven different heat pumps (800kW), hybrid panels for solar-thermal generation (75kW) and PV (110kW), ground heat storage (40MWh), hot water storage, battery (20kWh), apartment automation

• Primary/kindergarten school building: two heat pumps (510kW), PV (29kW), solar-thermal generation (90kW), electrical hot water preparation (70kW).

All other buildings onsite have conventional energy infrastructure, including district heating. (A fourth testbed in a commercial building hasn’t yet been implemented due to a lag in developing the workspace.)

In the smart grid domain the focus is on automation and monitoring on the distribution grid. 12 transformer stations have been fitted with 23 transformers of different technology types with monitoring via 500 smart meters and 100 sensors on the distribution grid.

Underpinning these the smart ICT system provides data warehousing and integration and business analytics, and combines both traditional business intelligence  and data discovery from correlation of multiple data sources.

“The aim is to move from today’s energy system to an optimal and future-proof system,” said Alexander Schenk, Principal Key Expert - Smart Distribution Grids at Siemens, at a press briefing at Aspern Seestadt during European Utility Week 2015. “Our focus is on optimization of each of the domains as well as the overall system optimization from a holistic perspective.”

Smart city framework for Vienna

A long list of targets have been defined for the ASCR energy testbed, which will run to 2018 with the possibility of extension, depending on the results obtained.

Existing buildings in the development won’t be retrofitted with the energy technologies. However, new buildings going up after the testbed results become available are expected, according to the requirements of the individual developers, to incorporate them in some combination.

The outcomes also will feed into the Smart City Vienna 2050 strategy, with Aspern Seestadt, with its handful of ‘smart energy’ buildings, set to provide a foundation and guide to the long-term smartening of Vienna. Among the goals is the EU’s 80% reduction in CO2 emissions from 1990 levels by 2050 - from 3.1 tonnes per capita to 1 tonne per capita. Energy targets include deriving 50% of Vienna’s gross energy consumption from renewable sources, reducing per capita primary energy input from 3kW to 2kW and reducing existing building energy consumption for space heating/cooling/water heating by 1% per capita per year.

To find out more about the Aspern Seestadt development, see the Engerati briefing Seestadt Aspern a showcase for the migration to a smart urban energy system.