Smart energy storage heaters boost renewable electricity
An EU-funded project has brought affordable energy-storage technology into people's homes with smart night-storage heaters, helping the EU to meet its renewable electricity targets.
© Gstudio Group #54266670, 2019 source: stock.adobe.com
Energy-storage technologies have long been hailed as the perfect partner to renewable energy. Since the amounts of renewable energy produced such as solar and wind power are largely controlled by nature, energy storage enables any excess renewable energy to be saved up and used when needed, and not just when it is supplied.
Many energy-storage development projects focus on facilities installed in power plants and electric cars, but the EU-funded REALVALUE project has developed a way of bringing smart energy storage into homes and businesses. The project takes an existing concept night-storage heaters and brings it up to the digital, renewable energy age.
Our technology provides electric room heating and water heating to consumers in an efficient way, says Rowena McCappin, REALVALUE project director. It allows more renewables to be integrated into the grid, cutting carbon emissions from heating in homes, without impacting the comfort of the end-user.
Heating and hot water storage
During the three-year project, project partners developed energy-storage technology based on smart electric thermal storage (SETS) heaters and hot-water heaters. SETS are inspired by traditional night-storage heaters which have an insulated thermal core that stores heat during the night when energy is cheaper and in greater supply, then releases it during the day when demand and electricity costs are higher. The technology allows the thermal core to be charged and heat released at any time to balance electricity supply conditions and to meet consumer demand.
To test the concept, REALVALUE installed its heaters and hot-water cylinders in 750 mainly residential properties in Ireland, Germany and Latvia. The homes were also equipped with smart plugs, sensors, smart meters and gateways to connect the system to the internet. This enabled information to be passed to electricity grid management systems. Meanwhile, test participants had access to an app available on phone, tablet and desktops which provided remote control to the devices as well as an overview of their energy use.
The demonstrations showed how small-scale energy storage combined with smart technology can benefit the entire electricity value chain, from generation and distribution to wholesale markets and suppliers and, ultimately, the consumer. The main benefits include lower system operator costs, better control and reduced carbon emissions. SETS are also up to 20% more efficient than night-storage heaters.
We see SETS as the means for an ordinary consumer to participate in the evolving energy system, says Gerard Finneran, REALVALUE technical lead, of Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation Ireland. Not everybody is going to have the money to invest in a Tesla battery, an electric car, a wind turbine, or PV for their roof. But lots of people have hot-water cylinders and lots of people have storage heaters heating their buildings, consuming a large amount of energy. SETS allows people to be active and important cogs in the future EU energy system.
The organisations involved in the project are now working on commercialising REALVALUEs energy-storage systems.