"IA Projects on Positive Energy Districts" workshop

15:30 – 17:00, 29th September 2021, hybrid

This 90-minute hybrid workshop was led by the ATELIER project, and addressed challenges in the management of large R&I projects within the energy transition. Large R&I projects with many different stakeholders involved are often difficult to manage in terms of stakeholder alignment and cooperation. Not only the size of such large projects but also the variety of actors involved and the different disciplines working on such projects can render coordination difficult. Incentives between stakeholders can easily differ, and it can prove difficult to direct all of the actors towards a shared goal of the project. Moreover, problems are often faced in extracting valuable lessons from a large project. For example, lessons can become embedded in the various actors themselves instead of shared throughout the entire actor network. To learn how to overcome such challenges and manage large R&I projects efficiently, participants in the workshop will work on a case study of a positive energy district (PED).

PEDs are energy-efficient and energy-flexible urban areas or groups of connected buildings which produce net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and actively manage an annual local or regional surplus production of renewable energy. They require integration of different systems and infrastructures and interaction between buildings, the users, and the regional energy, mobility, and ICT systems, while securing the energy supply and a good life for all in line with social, economic, and environmental sustainability. In R&I projects, evaluation frameworks and processes (including impact assessments) are closely related to learning frameworks and processes. Currently, in the H2020 Smart Cities and Communities programmes, 6 projects deal with PEDs with in total 12 Light House Cities, involvement of more than 100 other cities, and in total a few hundred partners.

This workshop (and associated paper) identified barriers and opportunities in the management of large R&I projects, taking a PED as a case. During the workshop, we zoomed in on three crucial processes in managing large R&I projects: Actor network formation and management, forming a common vision and articulating expectations, and learning processes. Participants were educated on how to effectively guide these processes, and what the most essential parts of these processes are. This is done by breaking the larger processes down into sub-processes and coupled key activities. Examining these projects is done by taking a system perspective and acknowledging that these processes are intertwined and continuous, instead of viewing the processes as isolated parts. In doing so, participants gained both theoretical knowledge on how to guide larger R&I projects, and practical knowledge on which specific activities should be undertaken to effectively guide these processes.  


  1. Plenary presentation
  2. Groupwork: Groups did short exercises on the key processes to confront them with the biggest challenges in these processes and how they can be overcome
  3. Group debate: Small groups shared lessons from their own experience, harvested those lessons, and captured them in a blog to be shared after the event

Intended Results

  1. A better understanding of conditions for effective upscaling
  2. A better understanding of the barriers within large projects and conditions for effective project management
  3. Shared participants’ lessons and experiences on how to manage large projects, and share and capture lessons more effectively in large consortia with multiple case studies
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