Connecting office buildings to the smart grid: harvesting flexibility

T.A.J. Goch, van

Research output: ThesisPd Eng Thesis

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Traditionally, the electricity system is oriented top- down and buildings are just energy consumers. Since electricity is expensive to store, supply and demand have to be balanced at all times. In the nearby future, the electricity system must be able to cope with an increase in intermittent decentralized energy production. Also, ongoing electrification is expected to contribute to an increase in demand. Demand side management and control is needed to ensure reliability of supply at acceptable costs. Buildings can be a part of the solution as they can offer flexibility in energy consumption and/or production. By enabling flexible control of processes on the building premises, the building can provide balancing services and respond to congestion problems in the power system, while user comfort can be guaranteed. For the engineering company BAM Techniek, it is of importance to know how the integration of such smart grid technologies in buildings can contribute to (energy) service provision. This study focusses on the enabling of flexibility in energy consumption and generation, while comfort is guaranteed. The project aims to create a framework that enables flexible control of building processes, and analyses of the potential value of flexibility in office buildings. The proposed framework consists of a technical solution, and an analysis of the economical benefits. Priority based control is introduced to enable flexible control of building processes. The concept is capable of prioritizing the energy consumption of processes, and controlling the consumption depending on the needs of the electricity market. An empty office has for instance, a low priority to consume energy. User needs are integrated in the prioritization mechanisms. This mechanism ensures that processes stay within the allowed bandwidth, while providing flexibility to the power system. Since the priority based control connects the end user needs to the market needs, a bi-directional flow of information is required. The Eneco World Office is used to perform a building case study to test the technological framework. Three sources of flexibility are investigated: decentralized climate systems, electric vehicles, and a sensible heat buffer. Results show that the amount of available flexibility depends mainly on load profiles and comfort settings. Electric vehicles and the sensible heat buffer provide significant amounts of flexibility. The flexibility in decentralized climate systems is limited since the room air temperature responds relatively fast to changes in settings and comfort boundaries are quickly met. The long term effect of storage in the building inertia should however be investigated further. Economical benefits can be created by using the variation in costs on the wholesale market caused by market volatility. When flexibility is used to contribute to the balance in a portfolio of buildings, the imbalance can be reduced, which leads to a reduction in costs. Finally, flexibility can contribute to a reduction in peak demand of buildings, leading to cost savings in the network connection. The need for smart grids is growing, while energy services are becoming more important in the built environment. Considering the potential value of smart grid services in the built environment and the market size, it is evident that the developing smart grid market presents opportunities for BAM Techniek. The provision of flexibility services can be a valuable addition to the energy services portfolio.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Kling, W.L., Supervisor
  • Hommelberg, M.P.F., External supervisor
Award date20 Feb 2014
Place of PublicationEindhoven
Print ISBNs978-90-444-1261-1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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