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SmartHeat – An eco-innovative solution towards zero-carbon household heating

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SmartHeat (SmartHeat – An eco-innovative solution towards zero-carbon household heating)

Reporting period: 2017-11-01 to 2019-04-30

As more and more of the energy in Europe are produced from renewable fluctuating sources as wind and solar, there's an increasing demand for being able to decouple production from consumption.
In order to balance the electricity grids, the consumers should ideally only consume when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. This is not feasible, as consumption is driven by daily routines, habits and weather that are independent of the production.
So in order to fix the issue, we should be able to store excess production to use it during the hours where there's no production.

Storage is the solution to make this decoupling, and there are several different approaches:
- Centralized vs. decentralized
- Electrical vs. thermal

In this project we're focusing on creating a decentralized thermal storage system.
We focus on decentralized storage, as it will also benefit the distribution networks, when we are able to schedule the consumption of electricity.
We focus on thermal storage, as 80% of the energy used in the households are used for heating and hot water. And thermal storage is a simpler and cheaper approach than electrical storage.

Our system is comprised of these individual components:
- A 15kWh thermal storage module in a compact design that fit in the space utilized by the oilburner we're replacing.
- A cloud connected controller that monitor all vital parameters of the heating system and building.
- A cloud platform that is able to forecast ideal production based on supply and demand of energies, as performance of heat pump at different outside temperatures.
- A heat pump that's integrated with the thermal storage and heating system in general.
- A heat distribution unit that is able to produce domestic hot water on demand, as well as mixing the ideal temperature for the central heating system of the building.

When a large number of SUNTHERM SmartHeat systems become installed throughout different markets, we gain the advantage that 'Energy Aggregator Companies' can take control of a pool of systems, and offer load balancing services back to the Transmission System Operators (TSO) and Distribution System Operators (DSO).

Ultimately; the more SmartHeat systems become installed in the grid, the less likely it is that we need to upgrade the distribution grid, and thus we can avoid large investments.
During the first half of the project we have refined the design of the thermal storage, and found the ideal balance between performance, cost and endurance.
Different approaches for using phase change materials in the thermal storage have been investigated in both practical and theoretical experiments and the ideal solution have been chosen.
The heatsource for the system have been redesigned to fit perfectly with the special requirements of the thermal battery. Initially a heat pump was produced specifically for the project, but it became obvious that it would not be suitable for mass production due to the various costs related building a efficient manufacturing setup, and obtaining various approvals for different markets. As a result the project have chosen to partner with an established manufacturer who can offer a custom version based on an existing production model.

The intelligent cloud based control system have been developed so we're able to remotely monitor and control all aspects of the connected demonstration systems.
Control algoritms for optimized production and supply of heat have been developed and we're considering the following parameters when doing the planning:
- Electricity costs (indirectly reflect if electricity is scarce or excess)
- Outside temperature for the next 48 hours (tell us at what COP we'll be able to produce heat, as well as the heat demand from the building)
- Solar radiation (if building is a prosumer, we can optimize heat production to utilized as much self produced electricity, to limit the export to the grid)
- Behavior and habits of the occupants of the building (tell us how much domestic hot water is needed and when, as well as their comfort requirements)
All of above parameters are constantly monitored and production schedule is recalculated once every hour.

5 demonstration systems been build and installed at private testhosts in Denmark.
The thermal storage is the 'heart' of the system, and enable the decoupling of supply and demand. The intelligent cloud based control system ensure that we constantly take advantage of utilizing renewable energies for heat production. The customized heat pump is based on natural refrigerants and will efficiently transform electricity to heat.

When combining the state of the art components to a system of connected heating systems, we move into innovative territory beyond state of the art, and become able to make the residential heating equivalent of a plug-in hybrid car.
Heat pump installation in progress
Thermal battery installed at testhost