Definition of Positive Energy Districts and Neighborhoods

Positive Energy Neighborhoods (PEN) and Positive Energy Districts (PED) as light tower areas within a city transformation are well received concepts once presented and explained to the municipalities.

But the definition of „Positive Energy District is a key challenge!

Previous research has shown that it is notoriously difficult to define what a Positive Energy District exactly is. This is due to several issues:

1. Due to their different goals, the various stakeholders (municipalities, researchers, practitioners, developers, owners, etc.) have different requirements for a Definition of Positive Energy District that are difficult to meet simultaneously (certifiability, ease of use, determinability, being-well defined, ease of reaching it, communicability, etc., etc.)

2. PED includes different aspects and qualities that can be difficult to quantify and assess such as quality of life at large, social inclusion and the quality of the planning process. Apart from social KPIs, the quantification of energy flexibility – one of the three pillars on which the Positive Energy District-concept rests – is a key challenge. Although numerous analytical investigations lead to the development of several theoretical assessment frameworks such as the Smart Readiness Indicator Framework (Klein et al. 2016), putting these ideas into practice remains a challenge. Especially for brown field developments successful implementation of significantly grid supportive energy systems allowing for increased incorporation of volatile renewables remain to be demonstrated

3. Quantifying Positive Energy district energy and ecological performance towards climate neutrality implies the operationalization of an allocation strategy of the remaining renewable energy generation outside the system boundary of the district against the remaining energy demands. “How much outside energy can a district use to be considered climate neutral? And why?” are the key questions here. Due to the scope of this problem, solutions are not readily available or otherwise unsatisfactory. Nevertheless, it is of utmost importance to connect Positive Energy District developments with a clearly formulated and operational theoretical framework of effort-sharing to justify and motivate the pursuit of highly innovative and ambitious project solutions and their replication.