The Digital Twin of a building to revolutionise the management of energy systems in civil and industrial settings
Thematic area: Digital society, Projects
Financing: IFAB call for projects
Enabling Technology: Big Data Analytics

In Bologna, the project funded by the IFAB aims to create a smart digital platform for optimising the energy resources of a building. Once it reaches its full potential, the “D-SPINER” will radically improve energy production, management and consumption strategies in order to revolutionise the energy systems associated with business, industrial and civil infrastructures.


  • Development of a digital infrastructure (Digital Twin) that simulates the electrical energy system of a complex of buildings.
  • Forecasting of renewable energy production, production-consumption balancing, estimation and optimization of energy load and possible storage.

The initial challenge

Climate changes have taught us that the future of society depends on new energy production, optimisation and consumption strategies aimed at cutting wastage and using sustainable sources, in order to minimise our dependency on fossil fuels. One of the settings in which this need is particularly blatant is our cities, which is why public authorities worldwide are studying innovative energy management approaches, such as the creation of energy communities, systems able to optimise energy production and consumption by forecasting the loads, storage and distribution of energy on a needs-based basis. One such project is “D-SPINER” (“Digital Source of Power in Emilia-Romagna), which was chosen by the IFAB through its “Call for Projects 2022” and belongs to the broader digital twin city of Bologna project, whose main aim is to create the Digital Twin of a physical building in order to make its energy management more efficient, more sustainable and more interconnected with the urban context.

The solution

The “D-SPINER” project is based on a specific building in the city of Bologna, the Lazzaretto, one of the premises belonging to the University. Starting from energy consumption data recorded by special sensors located throughout the building, “D-SPINER” will create a “digital twin” able to forecast the consumption and to optimise the production and distribution of energy.

How? By using HPC (High Performance Computing) technologies, more specifically Machine Learning. A digital platform processes the data recorded by the sensors to produce a digital twin of the building that learns from the data to the point of being able to develop models that predict energy requirements over time and forecast energy production from renewable sources. The aim is to achieve a “fine” model, i.e. one that is able to make predictions over very short time units of up to 24 hours.

One interesting aspect of the project is the platform’s integration with “Vehicle-to-Grid” technology thanks to which it is possible to connect the building’s energy system with that of electric vehicles – cars and buses. In short, when a vehicle is parked and connected to the mains electricity supply using special recharging posts, its battery can be used as an energy accumulation system that serves the network.


Conducting this kind of project opens up a number of opportunities, for both public authorities and private organisations and individuals. In the first instance, the “D-SPINER” building can establish energy efficiency strategies able to help cut electricity production and consumption costs. More generally, the potential benefits of “D-SPINER” extend to the entire urban context, if repeated in other buildings, neighbourhoods or even business locations and production facilities. In this sense, the project is a model of radical technological innovation, able to revolutionise energy production, consumption and optimisation strategies within cities.


Sustainable Development Goals

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