RealValue, a project that is testing Smart Electric Thermal Storage (SETS) as a demand-side energy management solution, has been demonstrated live at the EURELECTRIC “Power to the People: Electrification of the European Economy” conference in Brussels (April 2017), and the “Plug & Play: Charged for The Future?” in Portugal (June 2017). RealValue has been presented by project leader Glen Dimplex, who are supplying the Quantum smart electric heaters being used in the project. Dozens of key players in the European energy sector have had the chance to see RealValue in action.
SSE Airtricity are one of the utility companies participating in the RealValue project, achieving smart data aggregation for all participating households thanks to a Logic Energy platform that delivers a customer-end application for smart heater monitoring and control, and a utility-scale aggregation system to optimize the available heating and thermal storage capacity. In other words, SSE Airtricity can use SETS to absorb surplus energy generation and to mitigate peaks in consumption that bring generation capacity to its limit. The SETS are being deployed in 1,250 homes in Ireland, Germany and Latvia, which will provide valuable data that reflects not only the aggregated storage capacity of multiple energy storage systems, but also three separate locations with different climate conditions.
Real Value is a customer-centric energy management solution, where heater operation on the customer end is completely indistinguishable from that of a device running without a smart energy management system in the background. This is a significant step beyond traditional energy management programs, which often require the customer to sacrifice comfort.
How Smart Energy Storage can Decarbonise Europe
The EURELECTRIC Plug & Play conference addressed the importance of electrification in the European community, especially considering how it can help Europe reach its decarbonisation targets. Although there has been significant progress in the adoption of renewable energy, heating and transportation are still strongly dependent on fossil fuels.
Transportation and heating involve high-power applications that require an energy source available on demand, something that has been challenging to achieve with renewable energy sources.
However, demand-side management solutions like RealValue use energy storage to balance the variable generation available from solar and wind power with the on-demand operation required in heating and transportation.
RealValue has demonstrated how electric heaters, traditionally considered an expensive heating alternative, can now be used to maximise the value or variable renewable energy sources and increase power grid stability, all without affecting the end user. RealValue is demonstrating the feasibility of the concept with heat storage, but the same results could be replicated in ice storage for air conditioning, or using the batteries of parked electric vehicles as a grid-scale energy management solution.
The Importance of Technology Partner Selection
Renewable generation technologies are becoming more affordable and efficient, and storage systems are now cost-competitive in various applications. However, the electrification of Europe is characterised by a trend towards distributed energy resources, and these can only be managed and optimised with information technologies. To be viable, a distributed energy management system requires a platform that performs the following functions:
Data aggregation: Taking thousands of data points and crunching information into metrics that are useful for performance assessment and decision-making.
Compatibility: Distributed energy resources can only be managed effectively through a platform that integrates with many different technology providers seamlessly.
Scalability: Energy management systems must be adjustable for distributed energy resources of any scale, from facility microgrid to utility-owned power grids.
The Internet of Things can only be brought to the energy industry with smart data aggregation, given that power grids involve millions of potential measurement points subject to operating conditions that are constantly changing. All that raw data provides little insight by itself, and must be processed so it becomes useful for key decision-takers.
Logic Energy deliver monitoring and control solutions to th energy sector that integrate hardware and software to minimise configuration time, allowing our clients to focus on their core business. We have a decade of experience delivering solutions not only for the energy industry, but for various demanding business sectors such as construction and transportation. Our clients can deploy energy management solutions faster and at a lower cost with our customisable solutions, instead of dedicating time and resources to develop an in-house smart data solution from zero.