SmartQuart to become first “field test of energy transition”

Smartquart - Peter Altmaier Copyright: © BMWi/Susanne Eriksson

On 16th December 2019, Federal Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier has handed over the funding agreement for the first “field test of energy transition”.


The project “SmartQuart”, which has been elaborated by a consortium of nine partners under the guidance of the energy company Innogy, will thus start in January 2020. RWTH Aachen University will be represented with the Institute for Energy Efficient Buildings and Indoor Climate (EBC), Institute of Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Building (E3D), and the Teaching and Research Field for Real Estate Development (IPE).

The aim of this project is to make the employment of fossil fuels superfluous within the respective project districts. For this purpose, the districts within the cities of Essen and Bedburg in North Rhine-Westphalia and Kaisersesch in Rhineland-Palatinate are being connected within themselves respectively and on an inter-district-level. This is intended to facilitate the sustainably and economically complement the different district structures in a systemic network, and to exchange energy.

“I am content that SmartQuart, being the first field test of energy transition, is commencing. Our field tests of energy transition are innovative projects on an industrial scale. We develop and test technologies needed for ambitious energy and climate policy-related goals, and assess them under real conditions on an industrial scale. SmartQuart is exemplary as to how the energy transition of the electrical sector may be transposed onto other sectors as well”, explained Peter Altmaier during the handover of the funding agreement.

“I am delighted that we as SmartQuart shall be the first field test of energy transition. Innogy works intensively on shaping the energy transition, and on contributing to reaching the climate policy goals set by the Federal government. SmartQuart is the consequential continuation of this path. We want to demonstrate that the leap towards the climate-neutral energy supply within districts and in context to vicinal districts is already possible technically and economically”, says Dr. Andreas Breuer, Leader of New Techologies/Projects of Innogy.

The field tests of energy transition aim to assess promising energy technologies under real conditions on an industrial scale. For this purpose, the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs (BMWi) grants 100 Milion Euros annually.

The share of renewable energies in the electrical sector currently lies at almost 40 percent. The sectors of heat and mobility, however, are still characterised by a high percentage of fossil fuels. To reach the German climate policy goals, the share of renewable energy carriers has to grow substantially in all sectors and areas of day-to-day life. This is the very focus of SmartQuart – a citizen-driven transition of energy, heat and mobility from within the districts. Here, a vital factor is the decentral sector coupling on a municipal level in the districts, to translate the energy transition in the sectors mobility, heat and electricity into action. Different approaches are being developed within the districts, and subsequently combined on an inter-district level.

“The key element of this project is the energy exchange and the intelligent grid design within and in between the districts. Usage and generation are being optimised already on a local scale. The different sectors within the districts are being interconnected. Thus, a holistic, sustainable and scalable district concept shall be demonstrated for the renewable supply of energy and heat”, explains Dr. Philipp Werdelmann, Project Leader ‘SmartQuart’ at innogy. Innogy invests more than 19 Million Euros into this project.

A crucial element and unique selling point of this project is the participatory approach. The citizens of the districts are being integrated into the project right from the start. Town hall meetings and further encounters shall be organised with the citizens.

Further information is available at



BMWi, Förderkennzeichen 03EWR010B