Scientific papers and publications present the results and findings gained during SPARCS implementation aiming to provide insights and evidence-based recommendations on the topics of smart cities.

Scientific Papers

Demonstrating the optimal prediction of user behaviour for the virtual energy community​

Demonstrating the optimal prediction of user behaviour for the virtual energy community​

This study assesses customer behavior under flexible electricity tariffs and evaluates demand-side management, paired with a Virtual Power Plant (VPP), for creating positive energy districts (PEDs). The research explores technical, economic, and environmental aspects of residential demand response. A techno-economic energy system model optimizes customer cost and utility margin, projecting scenarios for short and long-term developments. The model accounts for increasing customer numbers and load-shifting potential across distinct customer groups. Results indicate that acceptance scenarios unlock higher load-shifting potential, especially with VPP-based tariffs tied to renewable energy sources. This encourages load shifting, improving the local energy system’s hourly imbalances. Economically, using customer flexibility leads to welfare gains, particularly for residential customers. However, cost savings vary among tariffs and customer groups, with dynamic VPP tariffs showing the most significant savings. The study suggests increasing price volatility or changing taxation systems to cover smart metering costs. While utilities may see reduced margins with dynamic tariffs, they gain in enhancing local energy autonomy. Residential demand response proves valuable in replacing conventional power plants for residual load provision, but further economic benefits and balancing group management require additional research.

Feasibility study on the coordinating role of blockchain in local market dynamics

Feasibility study on the coordinating role of blockchain in local market dynamics

The energy industry, including Leipziger Stadtwerke, explores blockchain’s potential within the SPARCS program to boost renewable energy use and cut emissions, but caution is warranted due to high risks and regulatory hurdles. Blockchain, a secure, distributed database, enables tamper-proof transactions through encrypted blocks and smart contracts, yet its implementation faces challenges in technical infrastructure readiness and regulatory complexities. While blockchain offers transformative potential, especially in peer-to-peer energy trading and reshaping energy company roles, significant upgrades and market acceptance remain key barriers, suggesting a need for cautious testing within smart city initiatives to assess feasibility and maturity in the energy sector.

Theoretical studies on e-mobility services tailored for residents

Theoretical studies on e-mobility services tailored for residents

Due to the efforts for climate neutrality and the change towards electric mobility, several new business models and players have established themselves in the field of “electric mobility” in recent years. The operation of charging infrastructure and charging station management and billing systems has become a lucrative business field and many different players have focused on this area and driven innovation in this sector. For example, the operation of charging infrastructure and the billing of charging processes are now part of the extended business field of many municipal utilities. The activities of the companies in the e-mobility ecosystem and the services to the customers currently mainly comprise the provision of charging energy and the billing of charging processes. Other services to customers and the integration of payment processes into other processes currently play only a minor role, but could increase the user experience and customer satisfaction in the future. The extent to which an integration of further services is possible and what corresponding services as well as business models could look like was analysed within action L16-2 of the SPARCS project. According to the proposal, the focus therefore was set on the reservation of charging spaces, the selection of charging tariffs and priority setting. The results of the examinations are presented in the following. This document is relevant for stakeholders who would like to develop or implement services in the context of “charging” (e.g. flexible tariffs) in the future and would like to receive an overview of the corresponding framework conditions and challenges.

Ten questions concerning positive energy districts

Ten questions concerning positive energy districts

Positive Energy Districts (PEDs) constitute an emerging energy transition paradigm, with an ambitious timeline for rapid upscaling to match the urgency of climate mitigation and adaptation. Increasingly networked and coordinated actors aim to realise 100 PEDs across Europe by 2025. This resonates with the mission orientation turn of the European Green New Deal, to inspire and enable target-driven innovation. Yet it raises questions that have long perplexed scholars and practitioners in energy transitions: how can rapid diffusion be achieved in a sustained and replicable manner in diverse socio-technical contexts?

Getting Started with Positive Energy Districts: Experience until Now from Maia, Reykjavik, Kifissia, Kladno and Lviv

Getting Started with Positive Energy Districts: Experience until Now from Maia, Reykjavik, Kifissia, Kladno and Lviv

This paper looks at the five cities of Maia, Reykjavik, Kifissia, Kladno and Lviv that are a part of an ongoing H2020 project. The purpose of the paper was to understand the status quo of energy transition in these five cities as they embarked on the PEDs journey and identify associated challenges and benefits that PEDs brought to each city. The information was collected through a knowledge gap survey, City Vision 2050 workshop, discussions during the City Forum and individual interviews with city representatives. Cities across Europe and beyond may find themselves in a similar situation, and therefore, this paper also provides brief set of checkpoints to prepare new cities for the PED journey, thus enabling them to transition towards PEDs more efficiently.

A Comprehensive Methodology for Assessing the Impact of Smart City Interventions: Evidence from Espoo Transformation Process

A Comprehensive Methodology for Assessing the Impact of Smart City Interventions: Evidence from Espoo Transformation Process

This paper proposes a seven-step methodology for assessing the impact of smart city interventions and presents a use case for the city of Espoo. A number of major findings were the outcome of our research and development work, such as the need for a thorough analysis of the long-term vision of the city, a combined top-down and bottom-up approach and the ongoing cooperation between all stakeholders involved in urban planning and transformation, in which necessary Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are defined.

Towards low-carbon district heating: Investigating the socio-technical challenges of the urban energy transition

Towards low-carbon district heating: Investigating the socio-technical challenges of the urban energy transition

District heating is a major energy infrastructure in many urban settlements in the world, contributing significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Decarbonising district heating is an important step towards the realisation of a carbon-neutral society that entails considerable socio-technical change. Building on sustainability transitions literature that has dealt with socio-technical reconfiguration, this paper investigates the barriers to the implementation of a low-carbon district heating system that is based on biomass incineration minimisation and the total phasing out of fossil fuels.

Citizens and Positive Energy Districts: Are Espoo and Leipzig Ready for PEDs?

Citizens and Positive Energy Districts: Are Espoo and Leipzig Ready for PEDs?

This paper looks at citizen engagement in Espoo (Finland) and Leipzig (Germany), and it determines whether the cities are ready for developing and implementing positive energy districts (PEDs). The authors studied the cities’ operations and current citizen engagement methods to understand how the efforts could be combined and improved.

Challenges and Barriers for Net‐Zero/Positive Energy Buildings and Districts—Empirical Evidence from the Smart City Project SPARCS

Challenges and Barriers for Net‐Zero/Positive Energy Buildings and Districts—Empirical Evidence from the Smart City Project SPARCS

The purpose of this paper is to explore common trends in technologies and replication strategies for positive energy buildings or districts in smart city projects, based on the practical experience from a case study in Leipzig—one of the lighthouse cities in the project SPARCS. One of the key findings the paper has proven is the necessity of a profound replication modelling to deepen the understanding of upscaling processes. Three models analyzed in this article are able to provide a multidimensional representation of the solution to be replicated.

Positioning Positive Energy Districts in European Cities

Positioning Positive Energy Districts in European Cities

There are many concepts for buildings with integrated renewable energy systems that have received increased attention during the last few years. However, these concepts only strive to streamline building-level renewable energy solutions. In order to improve the flexibility of decentralized energy generation, individual buildings and energy systems should be able to interact with each other.