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Final Report Summary - CI-NERGY (CI-NERGY Smart cities with sustainable energy systems)

The CI-NERGY Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) was composed of six academic research centres and four energy and software technology companies. The project provided advanced training for 11 young scientists and 3 experienced researchers in the development of urban decision-making and urban energy system models and tools. Further information at
Sustainable development of cities is necessary to face challenges such as climate change, air pollution and poverty. With energy being at the heart of many of these issues, urban planning needs to go hand-in-hand with energy planning. The European project “CI-NERGY: Smart cities with sustainable energy systems” aimed to develop urban energy modelling, simulation and optimisation methods and tools to support decision making in urban planning. Several barriers prevent from developing and implementing them (i) The disciplines related to the development of those tools are fragmented, from building physics and energy supply technologies up to software engineering and information technology. High-level integrated training in the urban energy research field is not easily obtainable. (ii) The various stakeholders involved are usually uncoordinated. (iii) The scales of an urban system, going from building to neighbourhood to city level, seem to be irreconcilable (iv) The lack of data availability and inappropriate data structuring is often a major issue.
CI-NERGY’s goal was to overcome these barriers by developing a network of partners and stakeholders from different backgrounds (academia, software developers, urban planners, local authorities, utility companies) and training young scientists in a high-level multi-disciplinary and inter-sectoral PhD programme dedicated to urban energy and smart cities. To ensure that the fellows could implement their knowledge to current urban problems, the results were tested on the targets and constraints of the two case study cities Geneva and Vienna, chosen on the basis of their ambitious sustainability goals. CI-NERGY’s objective was also to develop real urban decision making and operational optimization software tools to minimize non-renewable energy use in cities.
The project combined various strategies to address the urban energy management challenge.
Multidisciplinary and intersectoral training program:
A structured training program provided a balanced combination of theory and practical application (see public Deliverable 8 about Trainings). The eight modules were organised according to the following structure (i) PhD Research Seminars (ii) Theory and Foundations and (iii) Industrial Applications and Case Studies. The research seminars gave the opportunity to discuss the individual hypotheses, methodologies and results. The theory training supplied a fundamental technical basis and understanding of the urban energy systems, physical characteristics and modelling. Given the varied backgrounds of the fellows, such foundation courses proved to be essential in practice. Transferrable skills were integrated via e-learning, local training courses and discussions during modules. Case study visits and the participation of local industrial experts and ensured the applicability to current urban challenges.
Research results and exploitation:
The project was structured in three work packages: Decision Support and Integrated Energy Planning (WP2); Urban Energy and Network Modelling (WP3); 3D Geospatial Data Server Optimisation Methods and Model Integration (WP4).
Each fellow developed a methodology corresponding to a specific research question. Topics tackled current problems that are addressed by the research community, with an orientation towards the needs of the local stakeholders and decision makers. They covered several scales ranging from individual building performance to blocks of buildings and city quarter levels up to an entire city. The methods developed by the fellows were related to different aspects of the urban energy problem: evaluation of energy demand, modelling of network behaviour (district heating, electric), integration of renewable energy and urban energy network models, development of advanced demand side management algorithms, optimisation techniques for early stage planning of an urban district, etc.
The project also created common models, tools and frameworks: In order to tackle the heterogeneity of the existing datasets, two 3D city models based on the international standard CityGML format have been generated for each case study city. They were enriched with building information and energy-related data gathered from different sources and used as a basis for the research project. The web based “CI-NERGY simulation platform” for urban areas and the decision support platform for planning of energy systems (“URBio”) have been created.
Some of CI-NERGY’s open research questions have been or are currently exploited in further research projects (e.g. WeBest, INTEGRcity, Simstadt 2.0, Sim4Blocks). Particularly the web services and orchestration created as a backend to the CI-NERGY simulation platform, the decision support platform URBio (ESR1 and ESR4) and the clustering methods (ESR5) have the potential for commercial exploitation. So far no patent has been registered within the frame of the CI-NERGY project and no license agreement is being contracted. The other individual research results will be used at each academic institution for further research purposes and each fellow will use them for their own knowledge, which will increase their employability.
The synergy and close cooperation between the academic and industrial partners will lead to further joint projects on urban energy systems in Geneva and Vienna. Furthermore, based on the contacts that were established to innovative European companies, but also in New York during the summer school, it is foreseen that the CI-NERGY methods can be further expanded for integrated energy urban planning and city quarter operation with new international partnerships.
CI-NERGY has proposed an integrated approach which tackles the complexity of the urban energy field, confronted with different disciplines, data sources, tools, users and needs.
The training concept in the CI-NERGY project provided very early integration of the PhD projects into a complex multi-disciplinary field, where both engineering and information technology skills are urgently needed. The fragmentation of disciplines and scientific know-how in this crucial area for European energy strategy and climate change mitigation was thus addressed by the ambitious training program. The integration of academia and industry offers many opportunities for the fellows to further develop their careers. Most of them will continue the collaboration with the case study cities, as they request additional consultancy services and are very interested to apply the tools to new green or brownfield development.
The generated knowledge on urban energy modelling decision making gives a new perspective to various private and academic partners and involved stakeholders from the energy management field. The CI-NERGY results give them a new way of mapping the sector, a new concept of energy and planning integration and point towards alternative models for relating urban energy sector. Part of the value added has been CI-NERGY’s influence on debates about the future energy planning on urban scale and the computed based tools usage in urban modelling. The impact will be increased by the publication in June 2018 of the CI-NERGY Proceedings Book “Urban energy systems for low carbon cities” as a reference text and support guidance on several subjects related to urban energy systems.
The case studies tested the developed urban models and decision-making systems, which provided concrete real-world application of the research results. The development of concept, modelling and decision-making tools, provided immediate benefits to the case study cities Vienna and Geneva, and with a replication potential for highly energy efficient cities of renewable energy supply. The tools and methods need to be further developed and will be very useful for the urban planning and energy consultancy and services community.
A particular impact is the confirmation of the applicability and further development of the CityGML standard. The adoption of the CityGML standard for urban data modelling has granted an open, powerful and flexible solution which allows to provide harmonised and homogeneous data to the simulation tools, regardless of the original data formats and origin. The extendibility of CityGML by means of Application Domain Extensions (Energy and Utility Networks ADE) has greatly improved the modelling capabilities of CityGML for energy-related tools. There has also been a mutual benefit for the ADE communities, as CI-NERGY has actively contributed to their further development.
Furthermore, the CI-NERGY project demonstrates a number of tangible socio-economic benefits as follows: (i) Development of advanced energy planning tools that contribute to future planning of city quarters (ii) Uptake of these tools by urban energy planners, initially at Geneva and Vienna, and later by other interested parties, (iii) By its outreach activities, an appreciation of the importance and relevance of urban energy planning tools by different stakeholders (iv) Development of human capital by the training of young scientists who will contribute to the future socio-economic well-being of society.

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