Saving Resources, Reducing CO2 Emissions, Stabilizing Networks
Seven international partners from science and industry collaborate in the European COOPERATE research project, with the aim of developing so-called “energy-positive neighborhoods,” EPN for short. In such neighborhoods, the different ways of sustainable energy production and energy use shall be coordinated locally in such a way that resources are saved, carbon dioxide emissions reduced, and power grids stabilized. Three departments of RWTH Aachen are participating in the project, which is coordinated by Professor Antonello Monti, Director of the Institute for Automation of Complex Power Systems at the E.ON Energy Research Center at RWTH Aachen.
Summarizing the major goals of the project, Monti explains that “in COOPERATE, together with high-profile partners from industry and research, we are developing an innovative system which helps to optimize the production and consumption of sustainable energy, for example in a small urban quarter, a residential area, or a university campus.”
“We focus on the maximum use of local resources and the efficient use of energy, but we also seek to stabilize the local distribution grid in order to maintain a secure energy supply at all times. You could say that we extend the idea of the smart home to a whole cluster of adjacent buildings: We call this the energy-positive neighborhood.”
According to Monti, the project partners also want to develop additional services, such as local parking lot guidance system or a control system for charging stations for electric vehicles.
For this purpose, a service and management platform with integrated monitoring and control functions is being developed. The exchange of information between the individual buildings, the control center and the grid operator is managed in a cloud environment. Furthermore, as part of COOPERATE, new business models are developed and tested, including the new function of Neighbourhood Energy Manager, who monitors energy consumption and coordinates energy feeds for one or several neighborhoods. The manager monitors and controls communication between all participants, provides – if necessary – incentives to reduce demand, and identifies possible malfunctions, e.g. by comparing current and past data.
Within COOPERATE, the Institute of Complex Power Systems is also provides the simulation concept which is to test the components and strategies develop in the project before implementation. The Institute Energy Efficient Buildings and Indoor Climate at E.ON ERC, headed by Professor Dirk Müller, will develop models and conduct thermal calculations for buildings. Here, the project leaders identify large energy saving potentials, as the energy supply of buildings, particularly for heating and cooling, constitute about 40 percent of the overall energy demand and are responsible for about a third of all carbon dioxide emissions. In collaboration with the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), the Institute of Software Engineering (SE) is developing a data model for the standardized description of neighborhoods, the so-called Neighbourhood Information Model.
Implementation in Two Neighborhoods
The concepts and strategies developed in COOPERATE are being implemented in two neighborhoods for testing purposes: the Office Campus of Bouygues Construction and the Bishopstown Campus of the Cork Institute of Technology. The Bouygues site in Guyancourt accommodates about 3,000 employees; here, COOPERATE is to provide the monitoring system for the buildings and energy sources (photovoltaic power plants generating a power output of 20 MW), for the energy storage system, and for the different consumption sites, including the 20 charging stations for electric vehicles. Here, optimization potentials are to be identified and to exploit them through improved energy management.
The Bishopstown Campus has a variety of buildings, such as student dorms and sports and recreational facilities. The testing neighborhood comprises the so-called Nimbus Centre, sports facilities with combined heat and power systems, a wind power unit, a battery storage unit, and a student dorm. Except for the student dorm, there is a Building Management System in place for all these facilities. With the help of COOPERATE, energy-related activities such as load management and load shifts, but also services such as building safety, transportation and traffic management systems are to be investigated, improved, and newly developed.
Funding from the European Union
The project partners are positive that the realization of COOPERATE will contribute to achieving the ambitious goals set by the European Union concerning climate protection and sustainable energy supplies. The three-year project receives 3.5 million euros in funding from the EU through its 7th Framework Programme.
- RWTH Aachen University: The E.ON ERC Institutes Automation of Complex Power Systems (ACS, project leadership) and Energy Efficient Buildings and Indoor Climate (EBC), and the Department of Computer Science 3 - Software Engineering (SE)
- Cork Institute of Technology (CIT): Nimbus Centre for Embedded Systems Research
- the energy management company Embix (fr)
- the company Bouygues Energies & Services, a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction
- Intel Labs Europe (ILE), a European Network of Laboratories for research, development, and innovation