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TowArds Building rEady for Demand rEsponse

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Motivated consumers and a high-tech device team up for savvy energy management

Rewarding building occupants for changing their energy consumption patterns is an approach with tremendous potential. A simple and innovative plug-in will expand the capabilities of existing systems to monitor a building’s devices.

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Recent decades have seen many technologies and tools emerge to increase the contribution of renewables to the energy grid and smoothing their impact on fluctuations in supply. As a result, energy generation and distribution have become more flexible and dynamic. Now, the technologies are spurring consumers to increase their own flexibility. Demand response strategies encourage consumers to change their consumption patterns based on time-varying energy tariffs or direct payments. An example is running appliances during off-peak times or when the renewables contribution is highest. By shifting their demand for energy in a way that helps increase renewables and balance the grid, customers benefit from lower energy bills. The EU-funded TABEDE project has developed a simple, nearly plug-and-play device for building energy management that will help Europe realise this demand response potential.

Improved energy management with a simple extender

Building management systems (BMSs) use software to monitor and manage all sorts of devices: lighting, power, IoT sensors and energy metres. Most large commercial buildings now have such systems with established data protocols. However, current BMSs do not support demand response applications out of the box. TABEDE developed BMS-E, a BMS extender that can either be installed on site or connect remotely to a site’s existing BMS. In the latter case, according to Andre de Fontaine of ENGIE Impact and TABEDE project coordinator, “the site’s BMS can plug in and take advantage of the other important TABEDE functionalities, most notably the ability to optimise device load profiles on the basis of grid signals.”

Proven benefits at test sites and with large-scale simulations

TABEDE’s BMS-E was successfully deployed at three test sites in different European markets, demonstrating real-world functionality. Offline simulations based on the test site data showed tangible energy cost savings and improved environmental performance. Even better, says de Fontaine, “we were pleasantly surprised to see the BMS-E drive modelled energy cost savings even in buildings that were already highly energy efficient, specifically the recently built prototype smart house in Cardiff, UK, with the highest energy efficiency rating possible that was one of our test sites.” However, according to de Fontaine, more significant societal benefits can be captured with large-scale deployment. Scientists modelled the BMS-E’s impact on an entire neighbourhood. “Up to 33 % of the district’s electricity consumption could be made flexible after installation. Harnessing this flexibility, photovoltaic (PV) self-utilisation increased across a range of scenarios, contributing significantly to an approximate one third reduction in the total district electricity bill,” de Fontaine explains.

The market is ripe, the future is bright

The market for building automation and ‘smart building’ hardware and software is growing, indicating overall consumer acceptance of automated control systems for buildings. Further, the cost of stationary batteries and distributed renewables like residential PV systems has declined sharply over the last couple decades, fostering increased deployment. De Fontaine and his team are preparing to harness these trends and growing opportunities for TABEDE’s BMS-E, to exploit this flexibility for a greener and more digitalised energy future.


TABEDE, energy, BMS, BMS-E, renewables, demand response, PV, building management system, photovoltaic, electricity, smart

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