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Challenge / Goal

Finding innovative system solutions for sustainable municipalities is important to reach the national and local targets for decarbonization to tackle climate change. The identification of such strategies, particularly for the designing of positive energy districts (PEDs), is challenging for the decision maker since a variety of factors that point to the trends need to be taken into consideration. This applies amongst other things to the current business portfolio, the technological progress, the actor base, the regulatory framework as well as the market status. Given the complexity of this environment, system inter-dependencies and interactions between different alternatives need to be considered to systematically develop suitable strategies. In order to prevent stranded investments in the energy infrastructure, the planning process should comprise relevant scenarios for highly uncertain impact factors.


The techno-economic mathematical optimization framework IRPopt (Integrated Resource Planning and Optimisation) supports decision-makers of municipal energy utilities as well as the public administration regarding future portfolio management. IRPopt was calibrated and applied to develop an expansion concept for district heating in “Leipzig West”. In the first step, we determined the future generation portfolio based on the mid-term strategy of the utility comprising e.g. a coal phase-out and newly built low-carbon technologies. The integration of alternative heating solutions in the district heating system is examined and evaluated with respect to levelized costsand CO2 emissions. These indicators also serve as a basis to be compared to stand-alone heating solutions in the district. Secondly, we extended the analysis for additional districts in terms of a replication strategy. The aim is to increase the district heating supply in “Leipzig West” and the share of renewable energies in the district heating system.


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Time period

Planning time: Less than 6 months

Implementation time: 6 months to 1 year


SPARCS; City of Leipzig

Service providers

Leipziger Stadtwerke; City of Leipzig; Leipzig University

End users

Leipziger Stadtwerke

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