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RealValue: Reducing Energy Expenses with Smart Data

Funded by Horizon 2020, RealValue is a project that integrates electric heating, hot water storage and smart data technologies, with the goal of reducing heating costs and providing savings for both energy consumers and utility companies. In addition, RealValue is a concept that can improve power grid reliability and integration with Variable Renewable Energy (VRE) sources, contributing to the European Commission goal of reducing emissions by 20% by the year 2020.

Utility customers participating in RealValue are provided with a custom mobile application developed by Logic Energy, which integrates with various energy generation and management technologies, including the Smart Electric Thermal Storage Systems (SETS) deployed for the RealValue project. The application is built to be intuitive and user-friendly, allowing homeowners to maximise the benefits from their smart energy systems with no need for specialised knowledge.

The Logic Energy application empowers homeowners to assume control of their heating expenses, processing and linking data that is not very useful for decision-making in its raw form. Our technology provides insight on questions that normally lack an obvious answer:

  • How do thermostat settings influence heating bills? What percentage increase in expenses can be expected for every additional Celsius degree?
  • How do heating expenses change in response to outdoor weather?
  • How does the cost of heating vary throughout the day?

RealValue seeks to transform electric heating from a liability into an asset, sharing the benefits with all players in the energy industry. The project is being implemented by a consortium of companies, which includes technology providers like Glen Dimplex and Intel, as well as academic institutions and utility company SSE Airtricity.

Data driven smart heating

Comparison Between Smart Heating and Conventional Heating

The SETS deployed in the RealValue project are created through the combination of electric heaters, hot water storage, smart meters, and a cloud-based aggregation and control platform. This technology can increase the stability and reliability of power grids, allowing utility companies to delay expensive transmission capacity upgrades that would be necessary in its absence. For utilities it is more cost-effective to drive forward the adoption of demand-side management, instead of focusing exclusively on the supply side, where capital expenditures are much higher.

RealValue Project Achievements

SSE Airtricity, part of SSE; has worked before in other new energy technology and field trial projects with Logic Energy. Within RealValue it was set to deliver a mobile application for its customers participating in the project, providing real-time visibility and control of their SETS. Logic Energy also delivered a backend data aggregation solution that links with both SSE and Intel, controlling the operation of individual heaters as an aggregated resource to reach the lowest possible cost. The platform analyses various types of data, including:

  • User configuration data, such as temperature settings and schedule. For the client, using the SETS is not very different from using a smart thermostat.
  • Variable electricity rates, which are retrieved from SSE Airtricity or other utility companies participating in RealValue.
  • Available heating and storage capacity, determined through data aggregation from hundreds of systems, which will grow to thousands as SETS are deployed at a wider scale.

The RealValue Consortium presented its 1st Periodic Report to the European Commission in January 2017, detailing the progress and achievements over the first 18 months of the project. The EC officials were particularly impressed with the degree of customer engagement made possible with the mobile application, and recognised the data protection measures it offers.

As of early 2017, SETS have been deployed in 50 properties in Latvia, 100 properties in Germany, and 200 properties in Ireland. The goal is to install the system in 1250 locations spread across the three countries.

Enhanced Capabilities with the Revamped Logic Energy Application

Logic Energy recently upgraded their application to offer various functions beyond integration with smart heaters. The range of compatible systems includes:

  • Solar photovoltaic arrays.
  • Tesla Powerwall home batteries.
  • Smart plugs.
  • Occupancy and motion sensors.

Information from all these data points is aggregated and processed into formats that are intuitive and user-friendly. Energy generation, storage and management are normally three separate functions, but the Logic Energy application allows their control through a single portal.

SSE RV platformSSE RV platform

An added advantage of Logic Energy monitoring systems is that they track the performance and store data in a cloud database. This data can then be used to claim any performance-based incentives from the local government, such as the Renewable Heat Incentive.

Other than providing insights at the level of anonymised individual users, the Logic Energy application allows SSE Airtricity to analyse heating load trends over specific time periods. The following are some questions our technology can answer for utility companies:

  • What is the aggregated heating profile for all customers throughout the day?
  • How does the daily consumption profile change throughout the year?
  • How do weather conditions influence heating load profiles?

In other words, the Logic Energy application allows a detailed breakdown of heating expenses, with a clear viewpoint of all factors that influence it. Heating has traditionally been viewed as a bulk percentage of total energy consumption, without a detailed breakdown of influencing factors and their effect.

How Data Aggregation Makes Hardware Smarter

The SETS used for the RealValue project are smart thanks to data aggregation, processing and forecasting. The individual hardware components that make up the system are not smart by themselves – all they do is responding to instructions and relaying all data gathered. These systems only become smart when linked and coordinated, and data is the medium through which this process occurs. The same can be said of any VRE source connected to the system: photovoltaic panels produce energy in response to sunlight, while wind turbines do so in response to the wind.

Smart data systems enhance the capabilities of energy generation and storage resources, providing savings throughout the entire value chain. The following charts explain how different energy systems and appliances are enhanced by smart data:

Variable Renewable Energy – Wind and Solar Power

Conventional vs Enhanced with Smart Energy Management

Heating systems Smart Energy Management

Conventional vs Smart Energy Management

Battery Storage

Conventional vs Enhanced with Smart Energy Data

Assessing Project Performance with Smart Data

A smart data aggregation and control system not only enhances the capabilities of existing energy resources. It also provides an extremely detailed record of system operation right from the start. This information can be very valuable for future decisions:

  • Assessment of project results and reporting to the development and financing institutions that made it possible.
  • Analysing long-term trends and proposing upgrades to improve performance.
  • Providing data for benefit-cost analysis, justifying the adoption of a smart energy system such as SETS at a larger scale.
  • Preventative maintenance: Performance issues can be detected well in advance, and addressed before they materialise, which results in expensive reparations.
  • Energy modelling: Data gathered during the RealValue project will allow academic institutions to model residential energy consumption like never before. This will allow the development of new and more potent smart energy solutions.

The Logic Energy application and monitoring systems deployed for the RealValue project are a customisable and factory-configured solution that integrates hardware and software. It provides an unparalleled combination of simplicity and performance, integrating energy generation and management systems from a broad range of manufacturers, which would be unable to interface with each other under normal conditions. Our technology is the product of a decade-long track record providing smart monitoring solutions for various industrial sectors and public institutions.

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