Energy efficiency is not just about reducing the total amount of energy used, but also to optimize the time when the energy is used.
A large part of the solutions to combat climate change, is to switch from fossil fuels to renewables and electricity produced from renewables. The demand for electricity is predicted to increase largely, due to more electrical vehicles, electrification of industries, new buildings and economic growth. Electricity, from for example wind and solar, are depending on weather conditions and don’t come in a steady flow. At the same time, the demand for electricity is higher in some times of the year and day. Another trend is that energy production is getting more local with building owners producing their own energy and connecting it to the grid.
To sustain a reliable electricity supply, it is of great importance that the supply can meet the demand at all times and all days of the year. For building owners (and other energy users) there is a need to lower the power peaks, both during days and during years.
In residential buildings, most power is often needed when people come home from work, starting to use electrical equipment and charging their electrical vehicles. This creates a power peak that needs to be handled by the grid company. During the year, buildings with heat pumps need a lot more power during the coldest weeks of the winter. Also this has to be handled by the grid company to avoid electricity being shut down. One way to do this is by flexible price for energy.
– We can clearly see an increased interest from building owners to work on power demand optimization to lower their energy costs, says Marit Ragnarsson, Project Manager in Sweden. Both suppliers of district heating and electricity are turning their tariffs more in to being based on peaks instead of the total amount of energy used. So, building managers need tools also for working on this.
The solutions to balance the power peaks can be sorted in three categories:
– Energy production and grid companies solutions
– Energy users solutions
– Flexible market by third party players, including electrical storage
EFFECT4buildings has arranged seminars with building owners and grid companies to discuss possible solutions and cooperation. The response has been very positive with a big interest shown. A network of all ten grid companies in the region of Dalarna has been gathered into one network to work on the challenge together.
– All grid companies are facing the same challenge, so cooperation makes very much sence, says Marit Ragnarsson who has been appointed by the group to manage the network and to apply for external funding for a pre study to identify actions needed.
Power demand optimization technology needs to be promoted for building managers. For example, with ITC solutions electrical devices can be set to run and charge at night when the demand for electricity is lower.
Another interesting and most relevant solution is to develop cooperation between grid companies and building owners. The grid owners can adjust the heat in the building according to power demand to avoid peaks, by using the energy heat storage in the building.
– We can clearly see that this is an area we all have to focus more on in the future and it is an area that makes a lot of sence for cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region, Marit Ragnarsson says and hoping it will be possible for the coming Interreg Baltic Sea Program.
EFFECT4buildings is implemented with the support from Interreg Baltic Sea Region Program 2014-2020 (European Regional Development Fund) and Norwegian national funding. The aim of the project is to improve the capacity of public building managers in the Baltic Sea Region by providing a comprehensive decision-making support toolbox with a set of financial instruments to unlock the investments and lower the risks of implementing energy efficiency measures in buildings owned by public stakeholders. For more information: https://www.effect4buildings.se
Text author: Marit Ragnarsson, EFFECT4buildings Project Manager, Länsstyrelsen Dalarnas län