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Realising Value from Electricity Markets with Local Smart Electric Thermal Storage Technology

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - RealValue (Realising Value from Electricity Markets with Local Smart Electric Thermal Storage Technology)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2016-12-01 do 2018-05-31

The RealValue project aims to investigate how the usage of electricity for local small-scale storage of heat to satisfy space and water heating demands in the residential building sector, optimised by controlled aggregation signals, could bring technical and economic benefits to the entire energy system including the European citizen. Crucial to the success of the RealValue consortium is the involvement of all 13 partners who represent the entire energy supply chain including Industry, Energy Services, Network and Research Organisations.
Main objectives:
• Physical demonstrations, involving over 1000 participants, of a domestic load aggregation platform that will link the electricity and heating sectors in three member states (Latvia, Germany and Ireland)
• Refine existing ICT systems and procedures to interface distributed populations of local small-scale thermal storage devices (SETS)
• Combine the experiences derived from the contemporary physical demonstrations with future projections from the desktop modelling studies
• Carry out thorough market and regulatory policy investigations
• Carry out consumer research and behavioural studies
• Devise robust business models
• Disseminate the experiences, findings and conclusions of the project
This three-year project which ran from June 2015 to May 2018 involved physical demonstrations of Smart Electric Thermal Storage (SETS) space and water heating systems in around 750 properties (domestic and non-domestic) across trial sites in Ireland, Germany and Latvia. SETS is based on the existing technology of traditional night storage heaters, designed to reduce the large differences in peak and off-peak electricity demand. Traditional night storage heaters have an insulated thermal core that stores heated during the night (to avail of more abundant low-cost energy), and then releases it during the day (when demand and prices are higher). A SETS system is more flexible in that it allows the core to be charged at any time, to suit electricity grid conditions, as well as offering end-users more control over the release of this heat and potential costs savings with up to 20% efficiency gains compared to traditional night storage heaters. Using these physical demonstrations, combined with advanced ICT and innovative modelling techniques, RealValue has been able to prove that an aggregated population of SETS can bring benefits to all market participants.

The RealValue solution: Properties were equipped with Smart Electric Thermal Storage water and space heating devices, plus smart plugs, sensors, smart meters and gateways. A gateway, connected to the internet, links the heating appliances to an aggregation platform, which at cloud level provides the ability to interpret the flexibility of the devices. This information is transmitted to a cloud optimization engine which is integrated with the electricity grids in each country, allowing an understanding of the current and future wholesale prices, and other network constraints. An optimised charging schedule for each appliance is calculated and passed through the gateway to be activated, providing load balancing services. Through the backend, data can be extracted from individual appliances, and software and security updates can be pushed to the gateways. Participants have access to an app (available on phone, tablet and desktop) which provides remote control of the devices as well as insight into energy usage. In Ireland, SETS devices were installed in private homes and housing association properties as well as a range of non-domestic properties including a fire station, town hall, classrooms, office facilities and substations. In Germany, SETS devices were installed in over 100 homes. A ‘retrofit’ solution allowing smart control of traditional (i.e. non-smart) storage heating was installed in 25 properties. A further control group of homes with traditional storage heating received smart meters. In Latvia, SETS devices were installed in a range of domestic and non-domestic properties including substations, holiday accommodation, a shop and a beauty parlour & hairdresser.

A range of methods were used to build an overall picture of consumer interaction with SETS technology within RealValue including: surveys, interviews and focus groups (with demonstration participants as well as project delivery coordinators and ‘middle actors’ e.g. housing managers, local council representatives, installers, call centre staff etc.); observation; analysis of customer data (call logs, bills etc.) and telemetry data collected from the appliances. Alongside this, building and energy system modelling was carried out to assess the relative suitability of European countries for SETS devices and the new functionalities they offer. Additionally, business modelling and regulatory and market analysis activities assessed the market readiness for the RealValue solution and identified the most interesting business cases. The project’s main results and achievements have been disseminated widely throughout the project, culminating in the Final Event was held in Brussels in May 2018. A full summary of the project’s results is provided in the brochure available here: All public deliverables can be downloaded at:
RealValue was actively involved in the BRIDGE initiative which provided a valuable opportunity for sharing knowledge and learnings from the project and delivering recommendations to the European Commission on exploitation of results, thus furthering its impact. RealValue was almost unique amongst other BRIDGE projects, due to the large number and wide range of ‘real’ people involved in the demonstrations. The project involved participants of different ages and backgrounds, from three countries, ranging from ‘tech-friendlies’ to complete newcomers to smart grid and demand side management technologies. It incorporated private and rented homes, social housing, commercial premises and other public buildings. This diverse range allowed the RealValue consortium to gather a wealth of insight in the area of consumer engagement, a crucial aspect for future commercial success of such solutions. Industrial partners were able to improve their understanding of the technological requirements for using SETS space and water heating for smart grids applications, in particular in terms of the interactions between the devices themselves and the aggregation infrastructure. In Ireland, the DSO was a project partner, and was therefore able to gain firsthand experience and appreciate the architecture required to allow the optimal amount of customer flexibility and aggregated services on the distribution system in a fair, open and safe way. The RealValue experience has been instrumental to the development and appreciation of future technologies and services required. Similarly, for the TSO, having ‘real’ results on its own system was particularly valuable and facilitated increased understanding of the type of role technology like SETS will play in the future, and what action may be required to enable and respond to it. The modelling completed for the RealValue project is indicative of the future potential for SETS, both at a building level and, when aggregated, at the power system level.