New report from JRC: Enabling Positive Energy Districts across Europe: energy efficiency couples renewable energy

From an energy perspective, zero or positive energy districts (PED) provide opportunities to achieve cost-effective levels of high-energy efficiency and renewable energy systems. This newly published report by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) aims to understand how to handle energy performance targets by moving beyond individual buildings towards a district level. This is a relatively new endeavour in both scientific research and realised projects

Although there are several ‘zero energy’ and ‘energy community’ concepts that exist, in terms of the legal framework, there is no such definition in current European legislation. Nevertheless, there are many instruments in the ‘Clean Energy for all Europeans‘ package that can support citizens, local communities and national authorities to develop such districts or communities (in particular REDII, EPBD, EED).

This report outlines the broad steps to help developers and policy makers implement a cost-optimum positive or zero energy district. It also discusses the performance aspects and provides a roadmap for local municipalities, urban planners and national policymakers to use when designing:

  1. A policy to legislate and enable PED / ZEDs at national level, or
  2. An individual PED / ZED at project level.

The literature review and the interviews undertaken in this study came to a common conclusion: although there are still some applicability barriers – it is possible to develop cost-optimal energy performance targets for a PED and in order to meet the targets of the EU Green Deal and the Paris Agreement the following steps should be taken into account when developing a PED or ZED:

  • Fulfil the energy efficiency requirements of the local building code
  • Optimise energy efficiency versus renewable energy sources
  • Optimise the supply of the remaining demand by onsite renewable energy (in district)
  • Optimise the supply though a separate grid system.

The report is available here.


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