Frans Koene, the co-ordinator of the €11.7 million four year Energy Hub project which started on 1 December 2010, summarises the progress to date on developing energy management systems and advanced thermochemical heat storage in a full scale demonstration.
The share of renewable energy must increase drastically over present levels if we are to achieve neutral, or even low energy, districts. Accommodating a large supplier of renewable energy, such as a large wind turbine, in the existing energy infrastructure, is hampered by the fluctuating timing of the energy supply. As a result, renewable energy supply may be either too large or too small to cover instantaneous energy demands. Both smart energy management systems and energy storage are essential to meet this challenge and balance these conflicts.
The E-hub energy system will be demonstrated in the district of Tweewaters in Leuven, Belgium. In addition, four scenario studies are being carried out to assess the feasibility of an E-hub type of system in districts within Amsterdam, Freiburg, Palermo, and Dalian in China.
Partner TPG has measured performance curves, including electrical efficiency at part load, of different pieces of cogeneration equipment. These include a 100 kWe microturbine, a 20 kWe internal combustion engine and a 100 kWth absorption cooler. This data is critical as intermittent and part load operation of equipment will be much more frequent than in conventional systems. The team also produced conceptual designs of E-hub systems for the model districts, and these will be the basis of detailed simulation in later stages of the project.
One team is investigating three types of thermal storage: underground storage, thermochemical storage and distributed storage, using individual storage vessels in dwellings instead of a single centralised heat store. TNO and ECN have each built and tested a 15-20 litre prototype thermochemical reactor, while VITO is building a test rig to study distributed storage in their laboratory.
Current research is focusing on the development of a multi commodity matcher district energy management system, combining the management of heat, electricity (and possibly cooling). This is a particular challenge when the commodities are linked, such as when using cogeneration.
Full scale demonstration at Balk van Beel in the district of Tweewaters in Leuven, Belgium
Balk van Beel has received a BREEAM outstanding certificate
The E-hub group has made a study of stakeholders and value chains and work is continuing on interviewing stakeholders to identify novel business models.
Due to finite stocks of fossil fuels and increasing demand for energy, energy prices are expected to rise in future. Public awareness of the danger of greenhouse gas emissions is expected to increase considerably leading to stricter regulation and adoption of novel energy supply systems.
The share of renewable energy from wind, biomass and solar energy will grow substantially. Energy buffers and intelligent energy management systems are essential to match demand and supply of energy in the light of the fluctuating nature of renewable energy supply.
Energy, an increasingly scarce commodity, is expected to be subject to a price differentiation, replacing the flat rates in use today. Energy will be more expensive in times of shortage of supply (by day) and cheaper in times of abundant supply (at night). Powermatcher and similar software management systems being developed in the E-hub project already use a pricing mechanism to match the supply and demand of energy. This system therefore is well prepared for future price differentiation.
ICAX works with a distinguished group of companies from across the European Union researching into a successful Energy Hub District, led by TNO of the Netherlands:
|TNO||Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek||The Netherlands||Project Manager|
|ECN||Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands||The Netherlands||Techniques development|
|D'Appolonia||D'Appolonia SPA||Italy||System definition|
|FinLombarda||Finanziaria per lo Sviluppo della Lombardia Spa||Italy||Feasibility studies|
|Acciona||Acciona Infraestructuras s.a.||Spain||Energy conversion and storage|
|Solintel||Solintel M & P SL||Spain||Techniques development|
|ICAX||ICAX Ltd||UK||Pavement solar collectors|
|HSW||H.S.W. Ingenieurbuero fuer Angewandte und Umweltgeologie GmbH||Germany||Thermal foundations|
|Mostostal||Mostostal Warszawa SA||Poland||Thermo active foundations|
|VITO||Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek||Belgium||Energy management systems|
|Fraunhofer||Fraunhofergesellschaft zur Foerderung der Angewandten Forschung E.V.||Germany||Energy management systems|
|DIMSET-TPG||DIMSET-TPG / University of Genoa||Italy||Integrated energy networks|
|Ertzberg||Ertzberg CVBA||Belgium||Balk van Beel at Tweewaters|
|VTT||Valtion Teknillinen Tutkimuskeskus||Finland||Business strategies|
|ISPE||Intesa Sanpaolo Eurodesk S.P.R.L||Belgium||Business strategies|
|EDF||Electricite de France||France||Energy advisory|