In July 2019, German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier announced the winners of the “Living Labs for the Energy Transition” idea competition. Now, with SmartQuart, the first selected consortium is getting under way. “Living Labs for the Energy Transition” translate innovative technologies into practical applications, and test them on an industrial scale and under real-world conditions.

We already have the technology to implement the energy, transport, and heating transition on a local scale and power neighbourhoods with 100 % renewable energy. However, to do this, the required facilities and devices must be converted to energy-saving technology. In addition, information and communication technology (ICT) must be integrated to enable intelligent linking between the different systems. ICT and smart grid technology improve network control and automation, while also ensuring safety, resilience, and operational efficiency. These forms of technology must be integrated into the systems because both the grid and energy generation are increasingly organized on a decentralized basis. With the increased demand on the distribution network, a systemic approach is required to ensure that these separate elements work together properly.

The increasing tendency to have energy generated locally by multiple individual facilities is also creating additional stakeholders: local authorities, citizens, and commercial and industrial enterprises. Any decision-making processes must consider and involve these stakeholders, with new infrastructure, business, and partnership models creating the required framework.

Connecting individual systems

One of the project’s goals is to intelligently optimize the energy flows in the neighbourhoods.  The aim is to increase local energy use while simultaneously relieving the load on the overtaxed grid by decreasing vertical power flows. Facilities within and between neighbourhoods will be aggregated and harnessed for this purpose – in other words, many individual solutions will be integrated to form one system. In this way, potential synergies that have not yet been harnessed can be leveraged between individual, existing facilities. Individual solutions such as buffer storage, sector coupling facilities, mobility, and local load management (demand side management) will also contribute towards achievement of the project goal.



Digital control of energy flows

This will be supported by features such as a digital neighbourhood management system, as well as a central control unit to ensure optimal control of the neighbourhood. Project partners can use software-based optimization programs on decentralized platforms to identify efficiencies in the network system, as well as load shifting and energy generation management options in the neighbourhoods. This also makes it possible to take on system services for upstream grid levels.

Practical testing on site

The SmartQuart project allows the potential of renewable energy technologies to be explored under real-world conditions, taking into account the various interests of users, local authorities, planners, and operators. For instance, users can rate the system in terms of convenience and efficiency. Local authorities and planners can assess feasibility and investment and planning risks, and operators can evaluate the business model and the operation risks.

Objective: Sustainable hydrogen infrastructure

The SmartQuart project will also see the establishment of a neighbourhood-level sustainable hydrogen infrastructure in Kaisersesch. This will include a hydrogen-based microgrid that demonstrates the entire renewable energy value chain in the heating, electricity, mobility, and industrial sectors. In Bedburg and in Essen, wind farms and photovoltaic plants in the local area will provide renewable electricity for supplying either heating or power directly. There is also the possibility of using novel LOHC technology to transport partial quantities of the generated H₂ or store it for the long term. In addition, pure H₂ pipelines will distribute hydrogen to end users in the heating, electricity, and mobility sectors.

Three neighbourhoods in profile


In Essen, an urban quarter with a high building and power density is to be created that will serve as a model for large cities in the future. The district shows how energy can be used efficiently even in the high-density areas of large cities and municipalities, thus making a significant contribution to the energy transition.

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At a glance

Short title: SmartQuart
Funding number:
Cities and districts, Neighbourhood strategy concepts, Constructing new residential areas, Renovating residential areas, Energy planning for cities
Running time:



Tel.: +49 201 12-15251

E.ON Energy Solutions GmbH
Tel: +49(0)201-18400

RWTH Aachen, E.ON-ERC, Lehrstuhl für Gebäude- und Raumklimatechnik

Tel: +49(0)241-80-99566

Stadt Essen - Stabsstelle Grüne Hauptstadt Agentur

Tel: +49 201 88-0

OFB Projektentwicklung GmbH - Niederlassung Düsseldorf

Tel: 0211 88242610

Tel: +49 (0)9131-12640-0

Verbandsgemeindeverwaltung Kaisersesch

Tel: 02653 9996-0Projektpartner

gridX GmbH

Tel: +49 (0) 241 412597 10

Stadt Bedburg
Tel.: 02272 / 402 - 0

Viessmann Werke Allendorf GmbH

Tel.: 06452 70-0