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REal: The Real Laboratory for Integrated Regional Renewable Energy Systems

In the REal project, a holistic, scalable and user-friendly concept is created. Thereby sector-coupled, municipal energy systems with 100% renewable energy can be implemented, considering all necessary aspects (from planning to operation), reducing design costs and accelerating an Austria-wide implementation.

In order to achieve Austria's goal of a climate-neutral energy transition by 2040, increasing reliance must be placed on decentralized, 100% renewable energy. At the regional level, according to the EU's "Clean Energy Package", municipal energy systems in particular show high potential for the efficient use of decentralized energy technologies. For this reason, regional energy systems are now also being promoted by policymakers at the national level via the Renewable Energy Expansion Act (Erneuerbare Ausbaugesetz-EAG) in the form of renewable energy communities and citizen energy communities. However, so far, there are only limited possibilities for putting these systems into practice. In addition to the still missing regulatory framework, there is a lack of holistic, scalable concepts or simple guidelines on how sector-coupled energy systems can be implemented, considering all necessary aspects (from planning to implementation and operation). This is also reflected in low acceptance or awareness regarding the environmental and economic benefits of renewable energy concepts within municipalities, communities and the population in general. The exploratory project REal addresses all these challenges and develops for the first time a holistic concept for the practical implementation of integrated regional energy systems with 100% renewable energy through decentralized generation and use of flexibilities. Therefore, a model region is defined within the REal project, consisting of several municipalities/climate regions, industry, agriculture, transport, households and local facilities with small-scale generation and/or flexible consumers. The real laboratory concept describes how all relevant energy flows (consumption - buildings/mobility/industry and production in the electricity, heating and cooling sector) and flexibilities can be recorded in a standardized way for the participating regions (municipalities, KEM region) and stored and processed in uniform databases. Moreover, it describes how a planning tool developed by BEST (basic research project: "OptEnGrid") can optimally dimension cross-sector energy technologies (e.g. PV, storage, heat pumps, electric mobility, etc.) and create an optimized operating schedule for these technologies. Based on this, an action and expansion plan for renewable energy technologies and the associated infrastructure, as well as an organizational and handling structure, will be drawn up. In addition to the technical concept development, citizens, communities, businesses and local initiatives are actively involved in the planning process in order to take their requirements and targets into account in the concept development. In particular, this increases acceptance and promotes small-scale investments and regional added value creation. Finally, the model region concept and the energy data provided serve as a basis for the further development of the planning tool towards a standardized planning procedure and simple implementation plan for an Austria-wide application. This ensures the transferability of the developed concepts and guarantees large-scale scalability.

The holistic concept of "REaL" is divided into 6 phases: Operation & Scientific Evaluation, Energy Concept & Detailed Design, Financing Options, Awareness Raising, Engineering & Implementation, Scaling & Roll-Out. This creates the conditions for 100% renewable energy in Austrian regions.


Area Management

Key Scientist
Michael Stadler

Area Manager
Stefan Aigenbauer

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