– 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.
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.