Lighthouse City of Lyon

The activities in the Lighthouse city of Lyon revolve around the implementation and demonstration of a PCED in the Confluence area

The initial managerial set-up requires organising the local consortium, the financial support, daily management for partners involved in the PCED, coordination of the different tasks and their progress. The local project management will provide leadership and act as a focal point to ensure sustainability, replicability, and dissemination.

On top of the management and coordination groundwork, ASCEND will develop an energy prosumer approach, centred around the citizens’ individual and communal experience in the design of a wide range of projects and services contributing to the PCED. Projects and services include buildings, housings, low-energy solutions, mobility services, and green public spaces. 

All of the activities will be supported and monitored by a data platform and by a digital twin, i.e. a virtual replica of the district. The two systems will collect real-time energy-related data from the district and use it to optimise buildings and energy grids, maximising energy efficiency and reducing costs.

New buildings in the area will follow the highest standards of energy efficiency and existing constructions will be brought up to par through refurbishment. As per the core objective of the PCED, all the energy for the district will be generated locally and through renewable sources. Energy production will exceed the demand for the whole district, and the creation of an energy community will ensure that it is consumed locally.

Finally, ASCEND is implementing a "no-car" district through a new design of the public space to make it citizen-centric, and providing alternative decarbonised mobility services for both passengers and freight. The long-term decarbonisation of the mobility sector will be achieved through a finely thought-out range of electric charging infrastructures and a new offer of decarbonised services for logistics, for the local Green Spaces Department, and for the Waste Management Department.

The Lighthouse City of Munich

The activities in the Lighthouse city of Munich will revolve around the implementation and demonstration of a PCED in the Harthof area

The first aim is setting up the management and coordination structure: organising the local consortium, the financial support, the daily management for partners involved in the PCED, and the coordination of the different tasks and their progress. 

Once the internal structure of the PCED is set up and running, activities will look to engage citizens, by raising awareness and increasing their role in decision-making. In the scope of citizen engagement, ASCEND will implement new PCED services and business models focusing on energy communities, prosumer models, refurbishing communities and community-financed contracting models for refurbishing. 

The PCED will be supported and monitored by a comprehensive and integrated array of open source-based platforms and infrastructures for data collection, processing and sharing. The next step will be using the data collected on buildings, energy production, consumption, mobility, climate, statistics etc., to implement new PCED management and replication planning, decision support and optimisation systems.

Energy efficiency measures for buildings will include conventional refurbishment and serial refurbishment with prefabricated elements. In particular, serial refurbishment aims at perfecting an highly efficient and industrialised process, and developing a blueprint for replication. Where possible, elements of the buildings such as façades and roofs will be fitted with high-efficiency photovoltaics and completed with the instalment of local PCED storage. Buildings will be connected to the district heating grid, which will bring the share of fossil fuels towards zero over time, as the whole district heating grid is converted to 100% clean geo-thermal heating, in line with the Munich clean energy strategy.

In regard to mobility, the focus will be on residents, with the development of e-cars sharing, powered by the local buildings’ photovoltaics, and public space redesigned in co-creation with citizens. Starting with Harthof, Munich will pioneer a new concept of mobility point, tailored to individual locations in collaboration with all stakeholders. Munich plans to eventually deploy 200 mobility points across. 

New solutions will also be developed to enrich the offer of public and shared transport, and for freight optimisation. New cargo-bikes, sharing boxes and package stations will be part of the transformation of the urban space.

Amplifying PCED Results
​​​​​​​for Lighthouse and Multiplier Cities

Multiplier cities, MCs, will report back on their progress, providing updates on technical governance, stakeholder analysis, as well as an overview of the challenges met during PCED implementation.

A first selection of solutions to be implemented by MCs has already been made. However, the local teams, in cooperation with the Lighthouse cities, LHCs, will later conduct a complete local assessment of the best opportunities and solutions to perform. 

ASCEND will produce and implement a four-years capacity building programme to plan, organise, and implement a detailed capacity building programme for both LHCs and MCs, promoting the exchange between the cities. This programme will include thematic communities of practice, expert training, and study visits.

MCs will mirror LHCs demonstrators actions, working on the implementation of their own PCED. These will include aspects of governance, citizens engagement and services, digital ecosystems, flexible, clean and efficient energy systems, and mobility. 

MCs will adjust their objectives based on feasibility studies and new learnings from the process of capacity building. They will build key partnerships, define processes and business models, financing schemes, and new procurement schemes.

Implemented actions include: 

  • the retrofitting of social and municipal buildings in Alba Iulia, Budapest, and Porto,
  • the development of energy communities based on photovoltaic production in all MCs,
  • the development of data platforms, giving access to citizens for awareness raising by all MCs. 
  • Vehicle to grid, V2G, solutions in Budapest and Alba Iulia.
  • A district heating system, based on waste heat and local resources in Charleroi.
  • Citizen engagement activities to support citizens in changing behaviours, engage in energy communities, investing in electrical energy and renewable energy production production, and transitioning to e-mobility.

Scaling up solution packages

ASCEND will foster a rich cross-collaboration process and a knowledge flow between cities and solution providers, to ensure the successful delivery of all the solution packages, SPs.

A state-of-the-art assessment of the six SPs will be carried out. The assessment will stem from 5 evaluation points: (i) technological, (ii) business model, (iii) funding mechanisms, (iv) procurement procedures, and (v) governance models and policies. The results will allow solutions to fit different local contexts.

ASCEND will iteratively design and test innovative funding schemes and business and public models for all SPs. This also includes offering cities assistance in understanding innovative funding methods and establishing local financing schemes. 

This process is accompanied by (i) two workshop rounds for each SP, to tackle pain points and bottlenecks, and (ii) a holistic cost and benefits analysis to assess each SP and overall city plans.

Other actions will focus on SPs’ digital aspects, to craft a practical and replicable approach for deployment. LCHs and MCs will test reference models for local energy community building based on open standards, data sovereignty and scalable, open-source ICT modules. ASCEND will work alongside the cities to identify the replicable digital building blocks for PCEDs. 

To facilitate SPs replication a Module for the Capacity building Programme will offer to cites new tools such as:

  • a modular business and public model toolbox allowing MCs to build their business public models,
  • practical tools for the economic and technical appraisal and 
  • practical tools to address financial objectives and administrative issues,
  • a digital blueprint model providing decision support web-based tools to analyse SPs’ risks and benefits based on their specific context. 

This module empowers MCs in their due diligence process. It provides the tools to transfer capabilities to cities representatives and local developers on how to adopt the SP, how to assess a bankable business plan coupled with a viable business model, and how to quantify the funding gap and approach the optimal funding scheme.

Finally, ASCEND will appraise all SPs in a virtual platform. On this platform, stakeholders seeking clean and green investment opportunities will be able to match their expectations with a Portfolio of SPs. The approach is simple: first, the platform will rate each SP on their bankability and their contribution to GHG emission reduction, incorporating the ESG criteria and the taxonomy principles. It will then perform 2 dedicated pipelines of SP to match with funds: first, SPs fit for local territorial equity campaigns via crowdfunding and crowdlending platforms and second, SPs ready for national development banks.

Monitoring, Impact Assessment & Evaluation

ASCEND will develop an integrated monitoring and evaluation methodology. The methodology is going to describe the process of data gathering, definition, calculation and evaluation of key performance indicators, KPIs, and evaluation of the project impact. 

The methodology includes the definition and calculation of a common KPI framework and cities-specific KPIs covering technical, socio-economic, environmental and governance dimensions. LHCs and MCs will receive information on the specific data to monitor on-site and deploy their own hardware and software infrastructure.

Another key activity will be setting up the right ICT infrastructure in order to gather and monitor data from different urban data platforms. The process will have to take place on a standardised, automated, and regular basis. This ICT infrastructure is referred to as KPI Engine and will be empowered with data management capabilities to ensure the high-quality of the data, while complying with privacy and security rules.

The KPIs will assess the PCEDs’ sustainability results by helping to quantify the impacts of the realised solutions. A sustainability analysis will take place covering 4 key dimensions: (i) social, (ii) economic, (iii) environmental, and (iv) governance. 

The methodology will combine KPIs with stakeholders’ interviews and surveys within LHCs, and assess the reception of implemented solutions and their success. 

To maximise the project impact, transformation strategies towards carbon neutrality will be prepared for LHCs using special simulation tools to model city decarbonisation pathways. The simulations rely on official statistical data relating to cities’ current and expected future socio-economic and technological development, and enriched by cross-cities surveys among LHCs and MCs. This approach will be later shared with the Cities Mission for a wider replication.

Collaboration with projects, cities, networks

ASCEND will develop a roadmap for collaborative activities based on cities’ needs and their topics of interest. A Collaboration Secretariat will be created to define the roadmap.

To maximise the impact of collaboration, the consortium takes advantage of the existing relationships of its members with other target projects, EU initiatives and city networks working on Positive Energy District, Smart Cities, and Circular Economy projects.

Horizon 2020 Smart Cities and Communities Lighthouse projects are the main source of experience in implementing smart solutions in cities for net-zero energy districts, NZEDs and PEDs. These projects will be ASCEND’s first collaborators and will be contacted through its cluster managed by Scalable Cities.

Other partnerships that will help in shaping inclusive and sustainable PCED include the NetZeroCities project and its Mission Platform, and the New European Bauhaus. Finally, an active collaboration with projects under EU Horizon topic CL5-2021-D3-02 will contribute to increasing the renewable energy share in the electricity grid while ensuring system resilience and cybersecurity in data collection.

The close collaboration with Smart Cities Marketplace will allow ASCEND to find investors for the replication of solutions in MCs. Collaborations include, among others: COM, Built4People, LivinInEU and EIT InnoEnergy. Collaboration with research networks, such as EERA Smart Cities Joint Programme or COST Action Positive Energy Districts EU Network will align the developments within ASCEND with the state of the art.

Finally, a network of city alliances will be created, bringing together experienced cities, small, and very small cities, and promoting national dissemination events. This network will help to build new opportunities for accessing knowledge, technology and funding. It will be linked to the existing City Coordinators Group from Scalable Cities but also allow the participation from other EU networks for specific events.

Communication and Dissemination

ASCEND will prepare and implement a holistic communication and dissemination strategy. The communication strategy will operate on three parallel tracks: (i) targeted communication to relevant target audiences (ii) local community engagement within the ASCEND, (iii) creation, guidance and management of stakeholder and multipliers relationships. 

Communication activities will always engage stakeholders both at the general, EU level, and at the local, city level, while leveraging close collaborative partnerships with other initiatives and networks.

With regards to stakeholder engagement, ASCEND will first identify and describe the roles and needs of all relevant stakeholders. These include:

  • consortium partners, 
  • regional and municipal governments, and policy makers,
  • EU organisations and institutions; 
  • business and industry, 
  • research and academia,
  • citizens and other platform users. 

A stakeholder interaction and engagement plan will follow, characterising appropriate actions, methods, and workflow on how to reach all target audiences effectively.

Activities on external communication and outreach will focus on disseminating news, knowledge, know-how, best practices, technologies, solutions on. Promotional materials will be produced to accompany these efforts, alongside scientific and promotional publications.

A dedicated platform will be the focal point of ASCEND’s knowledge and engagement activities. The platform will enable all local and EU-level audiences to access information and support empowered citizen engagement, replication, and City Alliances. The platform will be the main gateway for knowledge sharing and for unpacking and visualising the complex data information stemming from the cities. It will also have a direct connection to the European data spaces, especially the Green Deal data space and the Energy data space. 

Finally, the platform will facilitate the interaction with stakeholders and the implementation of community management within the involved cities, including with energy communities.