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What is a Local Digital Twin and How can it be Applied to Positive Energy Districts?

In an era characterised by rapid urbanisation and increasing demands for sustainable development, the integration of technology has become indispensable. Among the latest innovations reshaping urban planning and development are Local Digital Twins (LDTs) which have the ability to inform and accelerate decision-making processes. These digital replicas of physical assets, processes, and systems provide a virtual environment for simulating, analysing, and optimising various aspects of urban life. One particular area where LDTs are making waves is in the design and development of Positive Energy Districts (PEDs).

Mobile phone with a city imposed on top

Understanding Local Digital Twins

Local Digital Twins are digital replicas of a specific geographical area, such as a neighbourhood, district, or city. They encompass a wide array of data, including infrastructure, buildings, transportation systems, energy networks, and environmental factors. Through real-time data collection, LDTs continuously update and mirror the physical world, offering a dynamic platform for scenario modeling and decision support.

LDTs find applications across various domains, including urban planning, infrastructure management, energy optimisation, and disaster preparedness. By simulating different scenarios, stakeholders can anticipate the consequences of their decisions and identify optimal solutions. In the context of PEDs, LDTs play a crucial role in optimising energy consumption, reducing carbon emissions, and enhancing overall sustainability.

Benefits in PED Design and Development

By leveraging Local Digital Twins to help design, develop and even manage Positive Energy Disticts (PEDs) a range of benefits can be achieved, including:

  1. Energy Efficiency: LDTs facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources, energy storage systems, and smart grids within PEDs. By analysing energy flows and consumption patterns, stakeholders can identify opportunities for optimisation and implement strategies to achieve net-zero or positive energy balance.

  2. Resource Optimisation: Through data-driven insights provided by LDTs, planners can optimise the allocation of resources such as water, waste management infrastructure, and green spaces within PEDs. This leads to more efficient resource utilisation and improved quality of life for residents.

  3. Resilience and Adaptability: LDTs enable stakeholders to assess the resilience of PEDs to various environmental and socio-economic challenges, including climate change, natural disasters, and population growth. By simulating different scenarios, planners can develop strategies to enhance the resilience and adaptability of PEDs over time.

Whilst Local Digital Twins are a relatively new concept, cities are already starting to see dividends from their adoption. The city of Amsterdam is developing a Digital Twin platform, aimed at enhancing urban planning and sustainability efforts. By integrating data from various sources, including IoT sensors and satellite imagery, the platform enables stakeholders to simulate and optimise different aspects of the city's infrastructure and environment. Here in the Building Integrated Positive Energy Districts (BIPED) project, funded by the European Union, Aarhus, and in particular the Brabrand area, is at the forefront of advancing the use of LDTs in PED design and development. By leveraging both hard data (e.g., physical infrastructure) and soft data (e.g., user behaviour), we aim to develop innovative strategies for achieving positive energy balances in urban districts.

Soft data, which encompasses qualitative information such as user preferences, behaviour patterns, and social dynamics, plays a crucial role in enhancing the accuracy and effectiveness of LDTs. The BIPED project recognises the importance of integrating soft data into its modelling and simulation frameworks to ensure that PEDs are not only energy-efficient but also socially inclusive and culturally sensitive.

In conclusion, Local Digital Twins represent a paradigm shift in urban planning and development, offering unprecedented opportunities for stakeholders to make informed decisions and create more sustainable and resilient cities. By harnessing the power of data and simulation, LDTs pave the way for the design and development of Positive Energy Districts that prioritise energy efficiency, resource optimisation, and community well-being. With initiatives like the BIPED project leading the charge, the future of urban development looks promising.

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BIPED is funded under the EU Horizon Europe Research and Innovation programme. Grant ID: 101139060

BIPED is funded under the EU Horizon Europe Research and Innovation programme. Grant ID: 101139060

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