Energy management at the home level
The individual home can be considered the lowest level in the energy management pyramid. It is here that there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to managing and optimizing energy matters.
To tackle the evolving net demand of the home throughout the day, the FlexiO system by Lifepowr emphasizes the importance of flexibility by adjusting energy input levels. The Home Energy Management System (HEMS) takes center stage, optimizing local energy consumption for savings on utility bills. Strategies include adjustments based on dynamic tariffs, peak avoidance, and refraining from injecting energy during periods of negative pricing. Active engagement from end-users is deemed essential here, emphasizing the significance of innovative customer propositions to provide peace of mind.
One of these innovative customer propositions is the incorporation of Virtual Power Plants (VPP), offering additional revenue streams to the end-user by contributing to grid balancing through flexibility provision. By grouping multiple individual households and their assets, the central system of the HEMS plays the role of an energy service company and aggregator, actively participating in the evolving landscape of smart building and device control.
More than just energy optimization
A home consists of multiple spaces, and these can also be optimized, not just energy-wise but also when it comes to thermal comfort and air quality.
To achieve this, Renson has launched the approach "Creating Healthy Spaces 2.0", which revolves around extracting insights from data generated by smart, connected systems. The approach involves solving issues, measuring and reacting through sensors, connecting with external systems, analyzing data, and providing services.
To orchestrate the various systems, the "Renson Brain" is employed to control energy matters and ensure thermal comfort and air quality. These Smart Control Systems are deployed at the level of individual homes but can be implemented in larger buildings and even whole neighborhoods.
The system that is being employed is based on either rule-based control or a Model Predictive Control (MPC). The system model of MPC incorporates diverse inputs like weather data, user behavior, and ventilation rates in order to control physical assets in the building. Future focuses include more complex configurations, goal-oriented adjustments, and the incorporation of user preferences.
Energy management at the district level
As mentioned in the introduction, there is a pyramid structure when it comes to energy management. The level above the individual home is the district (a cluster of homes).
The integrated approach of the New Docks project in Ghent by DuCoop highlights the importance of developing Energy Management Systems (EMS) at the district level. This ensures adaptability to the growing share of renewable energy, the need for flexibility, and the volatility of the spot market. DuCoop's focus on controlling collective systems sets it apart from the individual HEMS solutions mentioned before.
DuCoop integrated decentralized water purification, a district heating network with 420 clients (400 homes, KMO opportunities, and public buildings), PV production on the roof, battery storage, charging infrastructure, and a 1,025 kVA grid connection via their EMS system.
The EMS features include grid cost optimization for battery storage, thermal cost optimization, maximizing self-consumption, peak shaving capabilities, grid cost reactivity, and integration with third parties. The involvement of end-users is a central tenet, making every homeowner an automatic cooperator and community member and providing them with decision-making input.
Energy Sharing on Industrial Estates
Energy communities have been a new element in the energy landscape since 2023 and have great potential when it comes to maximizing existing energy assets. A large advantage of energy communities is that the current grid can be maintained and does not require immediate investments. Energy sharing among companies also does not require them to become direct suppliers (they remain exempt from all the regulatory requirements). However, there are specific actions that the companies must take. These actions are: register the energy community at Fluvius, assign a spokesperson for communication with Fluvius, make agreements on membership fees; and handle all the necessary administration.
A prime example of energy sharing on industrial estates shared by Flux50 was a scenario where we have two different parties: logistics companies with low consumption but ample space for PV installation, and energy-intensive petrochemical firms lacking space for PV. Both parties would greatly benefit from sharing energy between them.