About Smart Heat Energy, Green Tech

Background

Increasing the uptake of Renewable Energy Systems (RES) is crucial if Europe is to achieve ambitious energy and emission reduction targets. However, despite steep increases in energy prices the uptake of domestic RES is still very limited.

The initial investment required means that the payback period frequently exceeds 20 years, which is a clear disincentive to homeowners. This is mainly due to the cost associated with integration of RES within domestic heating and hot water systems, and is especially relevant if combinations of RES are deployed.

The efficiency of these technologies is also often limited due to the inherent mismatch between energy supply and consumption; this can be overcome by deploying a suitably sized thermal store. However, this is often difficult due to space constraints in existing homes. Furthermore effective combination controls and sheer number of types of systems available. These factors limit the appeal of RES and virtually prevent customers from adding capacity over time.

Project Details

The SmartHeat project has developed a modular platform technology for domestic heating and hot water systems that enables the cost-effective integration and efficient operation of RES. This dramatically reduces the cost of installation and expansion of RES with the aim of:

  • increasing market penetration
  • enable significant energy savings for consumers.

The objectives of the project being to develop key enabling technologies:

  • a platform topology that enables the effective use of single or multiple RES;
  • intelligent control system to effectively manage multiple heat sources from different manufacturers or suppliers;
  • a methodology to rapidly and accurately dimension a heating and hot water system as a function of different RES and thermal storage systems;
  • a high energy density thermal store that enables a high RES fraction without the need for a very large water store and enables increases in RES capacity without replacement of expensive hot water stores

These technologies are compatible with Europe’s existing domestic heating and hot water infrastructure and suitable for retrofit as well as new builds.

Project Outcome

The concept has been demonstrated through:

  • a platform topology that enables the effective use of single or multiple RES;
  • intelligent control system to effectively manage multiple heat sources from different manufacturers or suppliers;
  • a methodology to rapidly and accurately dimension a heating and hot water system as a function of different RES and thermal storage systems
  • a high energy density thermal store that enables a high RES fraction without the need for a very large water store AND enables increases in RES capacity without replacement of expensive hot water stores.

The project has shown that non-water based energy stores can be utilised with various renewable sources. By utilising the latent heat of a suitable phase change material compact stores can be produced that are more easily accommodated in compact homes. To exploit the potential of storing renewable energy a sophisticated control system has been developed that takes into account the level of energy available, the cost of providing heat from the available sources (including non-renewables) and the predicted heat demands. The control system acquires room temperature data from multiple wireless sensors and communicates via the existing power circuits. The modularity of the system enables it to be expanded over time as resources become available.