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Simulation Supported Real Time Energy Management in Building Blocks

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - Sim4Blocks (Simulation Supported Real Time Energy Management in Building Blocks)

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2020-09-30

The growing share of variable renewable energy in the grid necessitates flexibility in the electricity system. This flexibility can be provided by flexible energy generation, demand side participation and energy storage systems. Sim4Blocks developed innovative demand response (DR) services for blocks of buildings including smaller residential and commercial customers. The project implemented and tested these services in three pilot sites and transferred successful DR models to customers of project partners in further European countries.
The pilot sites are formed by blocks of buildings with a range of renewable and cogeneration supply systems and ICT infrastructure that allows direct testing of DR strategies.

Sim4Blocks’ main objectives were:
• to specify the technical characteristics of the demand flexibility that will enable dynamic DR,
• to study the optimal use of the DR capability in the context of market tariffs and RES supply fluctuations,
• and to develop and implement market access and business models for DR models offered by blocks of buildings with a focus on shifting power to heat applications and optimization of the available energy vectors in buildings.

From the activities performed to reach these objectives, the following conclusions can be drawn:

1. Technical implementation of DR with heat pumps
• It has been shown that the activation of thermal building mass can significantly increase the DR flexibility over one hour and more, by slightly adapting the room temperature in the comfort range. It has been demonstrated that the flexible operation of heat pumps in the field is possible and can be leveraged by an aggregator for multiple flexibility services or energy markets, whereas points of attention are the latency to switch on or off, the recovery time, as well as standardized interfaces, which are manufacturer and model specific.
• MPC based forecast and optimization of heat pump operation has proven to be very useful to increase own consumption from PV systems and to react on flexible electricity prices leading to an increase of self-consumption of residential dwellings by up to 40%.
• In general, it has been shown that heat pumps represent a huge potential for DR flexibility and that it is possible to manage clusters of heat pumps to respond to requests for DR flexibility.
• It has been proven that algorithms can be tailored to the particularities of each building (e.g. HP interface, HP installation, and temperature sensors).

2. Market opportunities
• It has been proven that using the flexibility of heat pumps enables balancing a BRP’s (Balance Responsible Parties) portfolio and optimization on the balancing market. Flexible operation of heat pumps in the field is possible and can be leveraged for multiple flexibility services or energy markets but using the flexibility of heat pumps for tracking a power signal such as aFRR needs to be investigated more in detail and requires a larger pool of assets than available.
• An important point of attention is the latency to ramp to full power or shut down that contradicts the general conditions of most existing markets.
• For a larger rollout, it is important to keep the costs for the connection of the heat pump control very low with standardized interfaces. As an example, smart meter gateways in Germany could provide a platform for such low-cost solutions.
• More incentives could come from PV systems running out guaranteed of fixed price feed tariffs (e.g. in Germany).
Implementations at the pilot sites were influenced by various factors such as regulatory hindrances and technical issues with certain suppliers, which had to be accounted for, and adapted to during the different implementation phases. In all such cases, the local teams and the consortium as a whole adapted to the local context, while remaining true to achieving the main objectives. Thus, control and communication for the automated systems in the pilot sites have been installed and tested. Interfaces for incentivized DR and information sharing with participating households have been deployed for use.
In addition to the physical infrastructure, the project also furthered studies in the areas of building (and system) modelling and optimization, prototyping of user interfaces and testing of usability, as well as assessments of flexibility market access and modelling.
Regarding business models and market access for DR, substantial progress on practical application of flexibility information to increase the effectiveness of the cluster manager-aggregator model studied in Sim4Blocks has been made.
During the project’s final reporting period, significant focus was placed on continuous testing of systems at the three pilot sites also improving the previously developed algorithms. Thereby a key part was the activation of heat pumps and the corresponding assessments of flexibility following a common methodology. In parallel, indirect incentivized DR trials were carried out including a detailed evaluation of the potential use of electricity devices and the utilization of the thermal building mass. This indirect incentivized DR was encouraged via two mobile phone apps at the Spanish and the German pilot site.
Dissemination of the work has been carried out via conferences, invited talks and publications in peer-reviewed journals. This includes five peer-reviewed and one forthcoming journal publications regarding Sim4Blocks technical aspects as well as two peer-reviewed and one forthcoming journal paper regarding user behaviour and acceptance together with more than 20 publications as conference papers. More publications in scientific journals are currently planned.
The ambition of Sim4Blocks is to create new DR business models in the residential and commercial sector focusing on the activation of heat pumps, other power to heat technologies and indirect incentivized services. Sim4Blocks' global ambition goal is to demonstrate that DR measures can be successfully implemented in building blocks to provide monetary saving to different end users, as well as significant operational advantages to multiple stakeholders within the energy industry. This ambitious goal has been achieved by developing flexible, effective DR strategies, thereby providing a basis set of DR tools and experiences on which emerging energy service companies can build. Sim4Blocks enabled significant opening of the DR market to energy sector companies by making effective DR systems available for implementation in blocks of buildings. Sim4Blocks also enabled end users, as prosumers, to benefit from reduced energy costs, without compromising building operational and user comfort expectations.
Sim4Blocks aims to demonstrate that the introduction of DR measures in building blocks can deliver varied (depending on the local context) and significant benefits for a wide variety of participants, including society as a whole. These benefits positively impacted all stakeholders in the energy arena: from electricity generation and distribution operators, to energy suppliers and markets, and ultimately to all end-users including individual consumers. By optimising DR potential in blocks of buildings through the use of smart algorithms aimed at leveraging active and passive storage, combined with full integration of renewable energy systems, these measures enabled taking DR measures while maintaining maximum user comfort.