The user-friendly design tool imports the 3D spatial data of the areas concerned, including buildings, and transfers them to a virtual scenario. Operators and residents use it on site to design their energy supply system and the requisite infrastructure interactively and individualized. “Specifically, users would be able to model and view costs, the carbon footprint and dependence on the public grid if photovoltaic systems were installed atop every roof in the village of Puńsk. Any number of other mathematical models are conceivable too, of course,” says the engineer explaining an implementation scenario. What impact would additional wind turbines have on the supply situation? What consequences would expanding electric transportation have for mass transit? All these factors can be included. The software not only includes technical and economic but also socioeconomic factors and environmental and urban planning factors. “How many jobs can sustainable energy supply systems create in a small community? What will our city/town look like afterward or will we accept the structural changes brought about by new wind turbines, for instance? Our design tool answers such questions too,” says Komarnicki explaining the platform’s distinctive feature. Including and implementing the regional technical, economic and social conditions in the design was crucial. Only this enables a successful energy transformation process. This process was successful in Puńsk: Not only was it possible to boost energy efficiency and cut carbon emissions but the system also won over residents after initial skepticism.
Communities Have Freedom of Choice
The interactive design tool comprises three modules: The virtual 3D visualization module is used to review new investments in terms of the availability of renewable energy sources. The economic module is used to assess the returns on investments, factoring in potential technologies, local environmental factors, and consumption and geographic data. The technical module completes the software. It is used to draft designs for low and medium voltage microgrids and their components.
The design system lets communities decide what they feel is important for their energy supply and how independently they want to live from externally supplied electricity. The system proposes the optimal strategy for ensuring a stable energy supply, depending on whether a maximum of their own solar electricity or an alternative energy mix with outside suppliers is important to them.
The tool enables small communities to contribute to the energy transition. “A lot has already happened in model regions, such as Saxony-Anhalt where renewable energy is already being used intensively. Other regions are approaching the issue of sustainable energy supply slower, though. Our interactive design platform helps them supply them-selves with green power,” says the research scientist.