Testbed creates ripple effect for energy research at Chalmers University of Technology
For researchers to have access to a real arena where they can put their theories to test is invaluable. David Steen at Chalmers University of Technology finds that being involved in the project FED - Fossil-free Energy Districts, where the university campus is used as the testbed for a local energy market for heating, cooling and electricity, has opened new doors.
“FED has become a springboard for our research group to look more into integrated energy systems and the demonstration arena we are building will also be used in future research projects. We have already gotten two other projects granted, where the campus of Chalmers will also act as a testbed,” says David Steen, researcher at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology.
In addition to funding substantial investments, such as solar panels and various types of energy storages, the FED-project has connected the energy management systems of the buildings to a cloud-based marketplace. This allows the separate buildings, acting as energy consumers, producers and storages, to trade heating, cooling and electricity with each other based on what is most effective from both an economical and environmental perspective.
“One of the challenges with renewable energy is that it is not always produced when you need it the most. The local energy market we are developing in FED is one way to provide customers and users with incentives to shift their consumption in time, in order to use locally produced energy more efficiently.”
David Steen and his colleagues have contributed to the project by creating a simulation model of the campus area in order to measure the energy flows of heating, cooling and electricity. What makes FED unique is that three different energy carriers are connected into one common system.
“We are trying to take advantage of the flexibility of, for example, the heating system to help the electrical system, and vice versa. As far as I know, no one else has done this by using a local energy market before.”
The FED project ends in 2019, but the campus testbed will remain open to researchers and companies to test the new energy solutions needed in the transition towards a sustainable society. In two EU-funded projects, the researchers at Chalmers will examine advanced solutions for the future distribution system (United Grid) and how different micro-grids can interact in order to facilitate the use of renewable energy production (From Micro to Mega - GRID). Two additional FED partners, Göteborg Energi and RISE, are also included in these projects.
“It is very unique to have access to this kind of testbed and to be able to test solutions in close cooperation with industry," says David Steen. “It has helped us a lot and I do not think we would have received these two projects if we had not had the FED-project and the test arena here.”