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Flexi-Sync
Wolfgang Birk, Professor of Automatic Control, Johan Simonsson, PhD student in Automatic Control, Anna Krook-Riekkola, Associate Senior Lecturer in Energy Engineering and Simin Hajizadeh, PhD in Energy Engineering. Within the framework of the Flexi-Sync project, they will optimize systems for district heating and district cooling. View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Groundbreaking methods for district heating and district cooling

Published: 8 April 2020

In a new project, researchers at Luleå University of Technology will optimize systems for district heating and district cooling by utilizing flexibility in the systems. The project aims to optimize the flexibility in the district energy sector.

– If we are to reach our global and national climate goals, we need to change our current energy system and use our resources more efficiently, says Anna Krook-Riekkola, Associate Senior Lecturer of Energy Engineering.

Today, approaches to utilizing flexibility in district heating and cooling systems is used mainly at a local level. Usually it is only about managing peak loads in the systems, that is, moments when a system has to change due to increased demand. For example, energy consumption can increase in the morning when many people want to take a hot shower at about the same time, or when the outside temperature drops and the indoor temperature therefore needs to be regulated.

– In the Flexi-Sync project, we will have a more complete approach to flexibility and we will also take renewable energy sources into account, says Wolfgang Birk, Professor of Automatic Control.

– We believe that there is a great efficiency potential locked into these systems, potential that we can release by developing new methods.

Digital platform

The researchers at Luleå University of Technology will primarily work with methods for modeling and optimizing district heating and cooling systems. The work is done at several different levels of the energy systems.

– When the project is over, we will have developed a groundbreaking method for quantifying and utilizing flexibility in district heating and cooling systems. The method will be integrated into a digital platform where advanced methods for optimization, machine learning and AI are used.

The purpose of the platform is to optimize flexibility both on the production side, i.e. at district heating and district cooling companies, and on the user side of property owners. Several demonstration sites will be integrated with the platform during the project. The facilities are a prerequisite for the researchers to be able to experiment with, test the platform, and optimize production and consumption.

Sweden is one of the countries in the EU that has the lowest carbon dioxide emissions from heating. Foremost because of district heating – a business that relatively quickly replaced fossil fuels with bio-based fuels and waste. However, as more and more sectors are replacing fossil fuels, the demand for biomass increases.

– Optimizing district heating and district cooling will become even more important. The district heating grids also have the potential to act based on fluctuations between electricity demand and electricity production from weather-dependent production, such as wind and solar energy, says Anna Krook-Riekkola.

– It is important that we learn more about how the systems can be optimized both from the perspective of using resources better, and to help maintain the power balance.

Contact

Anna Krook-Riekkola

Anna Krook-Riekkola, Associate Senior Lecturer

Phone: +46 (0)920 492552
Organisation: Energy Engineering, Energy Science, Department of Engineering Sciences and Mathematics
Wolfgang Birk

Wolfgang Birk, Professor

Phone: +46 (0)920 491965
Organisation: Control Engineering, Signals and Systems, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering