The energy transition begins in Zwickau – researchers are working on future quarters

Photovoltaic systems on the roofs, a large energy store between the old new buildings from the 1960s, a heater that heats in winter and cools in summer, with the e-cargo bike for shopping instead of the car: This is how it could look, the energy-efficient district of the future . It is being tested and researched in the Marienthal district of Zwickau. “From a purely technical point of view, the zero-emission quarter is already possible today, the concept for it is in place,” said Tobias Teich of the German press agency.

The professor for networked systems at the Westsächsische Hochschule Zwickau (WHZ) is the scientific director of the Research project “Demonstrating the energy transition in Zwickau”, ZED for short. With more than 16 million euros funded by the Federal Ministry of Research it is one of six nationwide initiatives that are to become a model for the urban energy transition throughout Germany. Zwickau as a lighthouse when it comes to climate protection – that is the vision of Tobias Teich and his colleagues.

A total of 13 partners have been working on the project for almost three years, in addition to the WHZ and the city of Zwickau, the TU Chemnitz and the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich. Local companies from the housing and energy sectors, as well as a nursing service and a medical supply store, are also involved.

For example, the scientists collect measurement data in so-called intelligent – i.e. technically upgraded – apartments. The advantage: Because these are inhabited, they could, for example, examine the heat consumption in real operation, explains project coordinator Sven Leonhardt. According to the Federal Ministry of Research, 35 percent of energy consumption occurs in residential and non-residential buildings, around three quarters of which is heat.

“In addition to energy expenditure in winter, the issue of cooling is also playing an increasingly important role,” says Teich. Significantly higher room temperatures are already evident during the summer months – especially in the old new buildings that are widespread in the east. “You can tell that we are in the midst of climate change,” the researcher is convinced.

The challenge is to face this problem in the existing building. One can either retrofit the structure in a cost-intensive and resource-intensive manner – or make the existing heating system fit for the future. “Our basic idea is to use the same technology to heat in winter and cool in summer,” explains Tobias Teich. Corresponding solutions have already been developed.

In addition, the ZED project aims to make the energy transition and climate change tangible for the 8,000 residents of Marienthal. To do this, the researchers are also relying on micromobility. Five e-scooters and two electric cargo bikes are intended to make the mostly older residents of the neighborhood want to make small but effective changes. “What we notice again and again here on site: It takes a lot of discussions and a long breath to achieve acceptance,” says project team member Erik Höhne. This is one of the main goals, because the Marienthalers should get involved so that in the end there are practical ideas.

Household surveys, discussion groups and various event formats have shown that many Marienthal residents think the project is good. But when it comes to your own convenience, it becomes difficult. The energy supply of the future must not only be climate-neutral, but also socially acceptable and affordable. “If we want a planet worth living in 200 years from now, the bottom line will be to pay more for less energy. To do this, we have to split the costs differently,” said the professor.

How this could work using the example of Marienthal is what the researchers are currently playing through using a sub-area. They want to present the results in the spring.


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