In short, the OPTi project is about optimizing heating and cooling systems, to find methods and tools to redistribute energy consumption and, in the long term, contribute to increased energy efficiency across the EU. In the project, two pilots have been completed; one in Mallorca related to district cooling and one for district heating together with Luleå Energi.
– The challenge was to reduce energy consumption and increase energy efficiency while maintaining customer satisfaction. For example, if we can lower temperature in all houses by half a degree, it could contribute to major savings on a yearly basis”, says Wolfgang Birk, Professor of Control Engineering at Luleå University of Technology.
Simulation for better planning
Imagine a cold February morning when the district heating consumers expect both a warm indoor climate and a hot shower before leaving for work. On such occasions, the energy company can be forced to supplement the district heating with reserve power, not seldom energy from fossil fuels that are both more expensive and worse for the environment. These specific peaks of energy consumption have been in the focus of the project. An important tool for solving the problem has been a simulation platform created by the researchers. The simulation platform uses real data supplied by sensors in the district heating system, for example information about pressure and water temperature. Additionally, factors such as consumer energy requirements and weather are added.
– With the help of advanced simulation models, we can predict loads, thus delivering the right amount of energy at the right place at the right time, and thereby reduce drops and valleys. This has resulted in us being able to redistribute energy consumption without impairing users' experience. By simulation planning we can achieve a saving of 13 gigawatt hours a year”, says Wolfgang Birk.
– With the simulation tool, we have received answers to several relevant issues for a future more sustainable heating and cooling systems. During the coming year's implementation, we will see in concrete terms what we can achieve, says Magnus Johansson, head of heat and cold at Luleå Energi.
The OPTi project is a good example of when a university and the industry together contribute to solving real problems.
– It feels very good when our research can be implemented and make a difference. In addition, by contributing to community – energy savings that have a positive impact on both the environment and the economy – increases society’s confidence in our research”, says Arne Gylling, project manager at the Center for Distance-Spanning Technology, CDT.