Sustainable energy management systems
The implementation of a sustainable energy management system can be accompanied by various challenges. Technological wise, the lack of DSO certified meters on the market as well as an infrastructure that is not suitable for PV may provoke difficulties while on a social and behavioural level, user adaption, scepticism, difficult communication with tenants, especially in social housing context, and a lack of political interest and commitment may cause problems.
Other reasons for difficulties may be the lack of end user support to take their own energy management, and the strategic interest of energy providers (smaller units are less interesting). The challenges on a regulatory and juridical level should also not be underestimated: The compliance with GDPR in data collection and aggregation as well as the complexity of the approval process for heritage area must be taken into account.
One should also expect that the regulatory framework is protecting the electricity utility (DSOs still have quite some power, causing smaller structures – like energy islands or district management systems – to find a barrier on implementation) and that the policy is not up to date to face new technologies and the value added service market. The governance should also expect that the electric utility only wants to connect its own monitoring devices. Concluding, it should be assured how to apply the knowledge gained after the project has ended.
Policy recommendations are coping and loosening up GDPR (a possible solution for project owners is to aggregate data), and speeding up the certification process for smart meters in Germany. These regulations should also pay attention to privacy and flexible accessibility (also citizens should have access). Moreover, the creation of cooperatives using incentives based on fuel results (energy reduction, CO2 reduction, energy service market) can be supported. It is also required to facilitate strong stakeholder engagement and incentivise tenants by challenging them.
By showing the added values of an EMS, tenants’ acceptance of higher rents might be gained. Here, communication, co-creation, trainings and mediators are important tools. Moreover, people in charge should incorporate economic incentives. It is also highly recommended to involve energy companies and energy utilities as well as to improve the participatory process which is indispensable for the project’s success. The added value for tenants and city planners should be clearly shown. One should also include the demand to embed solutions in H2020 calls, so these actions can be supported through EU funding. It is also essential to aggregate data and to support the creation of cooperatives using KPI incentives such as a target for minimal renewable energy production by local energy communities.
Furthermore, it needs to be assured that the knowledge gained gets embedded in processes that will be used for future work.
Plan for Implementation
As next steps, scaling up to replicate the development to other buildings in the city and to work towards an integrated system by combining the different available components are recommended. Instead of deploying only consuming or producing energy structures, thinking from a system perspective should be considered to manage the balance of energy required at the building level, taking into account the RE forecasted to be produced and the needs from the grid.
Moreover, it has to be defined who is using the SEMS as well as who is benefiting from it. Also, an app for citizens can be developed and information sessions, communication, co-creation, and trainings should be incorporated. City-planners must also include new technologies in their plans and should expand Energy Management Systems to all municipal owned buildings. As part of a longer term strategy, reaching out should be considered as part of a holistic approach.
Moreover, tenants should be trained after the refurbishment. SEMS should also be implemented into cities’ strategic planning, sustainable energy and climate action plans, and covenants of mayors. Their issues and best practices can also be shared among follower cities. In the end, persons in charge should apply the following two approaches: home systems for small users as well as a district system for energy planners and city manners.