Innsbruck innovates for smart energy management

© IKB/Vandory


On 4 December 2018, ahead of the 24thConference of the Parties, partners from the Innsbrucker Kommunal Betriebe (IKB), members of the Sinfonia Smart City initiative, inaugurated the Innsbruck Smart City Lab to help the Alpine city reaching its ambitious climate and energy goals. From pupils to experts, the Smart City Lab will raise awareness on the role of innovative hybrid grid technologies in smart and efficient energy management. In Innsbruck, the Smart City Lab will act as a showroom and visitor centre to present the technical aspects of the hybrid grid developed within the Smart District of the Sinfonia project. Through the Smart City Lab, energy will be managed in an efficient manner, using sector coupling as a solution to increase the integration of renewables in the network.


Installed in the district of Rossau, the Smart City lab connects at pilot scale the electricity, heat and transport energy networks of three main buildings, into a smart grid. Thanks to this new hybrid network, energy will be handled in a smart way, using a tailor-made demand response energy management system taking advantage of the differences in energy production and consumption throughout the day and across the three sectors, electricity, heat and transport



Raising awareness for renewable energy integration


Today, 80% of the power produced for the city of Innsbruck comes from renewable sources, but this share amounts only 35% of the city’s total energy consumption due to the use of fossil energy in the heating and transport sector. The new hybrid grid will facilitate the management of the intermittent energy production from renewable sources and contribute to the replacement of fossil fuels in the energy system, with the objective of reaching 100% of renewable energy supply for the heating sector. Beyond the significant reductions in greenhouse gases emissions to be generated by the project, an efficient management of the energy produced will lead to costs optimisation, while increasing the energy autonomy of the city.


“The software created to control, regulate and optimise energy management, is unique. In that way, our Smart City Lab is setting the scene for the emergence of innovative solutions for energy infrastructures in the cities of tomorrow. The objective is to replicate this system in other districts in order to expand its benefits to a large number of citizens, in the municipality of Innsbruck and beyond.”, says Reinhard Fohringer, Project Manager at the Innsbrucker Kommunalbetriebe.Various technologies are operating in the hybrid grid, including Power to Heat, photovoltaics, heat and power storage systems, as well as heat pumps using sewage water and a biogas power plant. All these technologies are connected and controlled via the Energy Management System, which decides which type of technology should be used and when, taking into account outside temperature and electricity stock exchange price to maximise the process efficiency.  


2.7 million euro have been invested in this project, co-financed by the European Union under the Sinfonia Smart City project. To increase energy awareness, the Smart City Lab will be welcoming students and visitors willing to learn more about smart and efficient energy management in the city. Together with the other initiatives implemented as part of the Sinfonia Smart City project in Innsbruck, the Smart City Lab will contribute to increasing the quality of life of citizens, while supporting the transition towards a low carbon economy in the capital of the Alps.