In recent years, the idea of a Smart Grid has been promoted as the solution to electricity demand and optimising energy efficiency, with the definition of macro-models of multi-source generation and distributed storage using very high-powered transducers and sharing the energy generated among different users.
However, it has been proven that with this model there are large quantities of energy that flow over the electrical network and that the existing infrastructure must be significantly modified (involving major investments on the part of electricity distribution companies) in order to, for example, withstand injections of surplus energy bursts caused by meteorological changes. This evolution of the electricity market has led Circutor to rethink the energy generation model of recent years and turn toward a smaller-scale optimisation scheme for self-consumption generation.
This project seeks to integrate the hardware and software necessary to achieve an energy efficiency optimisation system based on renewable energies for self-consumption, sized to fit in a cabinet suitable for domestic use or small-scale industry, with network support and battery storage.
The goal is for the user to become a key player who, thanks to an adaptive smart telecommunications system, will be able to obtain the energy they need as efficiently as possible, always ensuring maximum consumption of self-generated renewable energy.
The resulting system will consist of a plug and play assembly that can optimise energy use wherever it is connected.
In its final phase, this project should include the assembly of real pilot programmes for domestic use (self-consumption), with or without network connection, to demonstrate their effectiveness. Norway's current energy regulations make it possible for them to be implemented there (also the case of United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and Austria) and it is also foreseen for Spain. Hence the interest in collaborating with a leading Norwegian electrical-sector company interested in marketing this type of product in the future.
Circutor expects that this project will place it at the forefront of generation systems for self-consumption and strengthen its export capacity.
The 5 agents
This project represents a completely new system that shall include several key points as part of its ultimate goal of maximising energy efficiency:
- RENEWABLE ENERGIES are a clean alternative to conventional sources. However, their main drawback is that they depend on meteorological variables with inconsistent behaviour and a highly random component in order to function. Generating photovoltaic and wind energy depends on the solar radiation and wind present at any given time. In order to make optimal use of these energies, it is necessary to have forecasts that allow you to use them properly when they are available and provide alternatives when they are not.
- Based on the previous point, given the random nature of renewable energy availability and of users' discretion for when to consume it, it is very important to have a proper STORAGE system.
- Injecting renewable energies into the mains must be done in a controlled manner. As noted, the amount of photovoltaic renewable energy was initially far less than the amount of energy coming from stable sources, so its impact was not disruptive. But the current volumes being reached do necessitate some management. Studies have shown that the impact of quick variations in injected quantities (for example, the passing of heavy cloud cover in the case of a photovoltaic system) can lead to instability that can set into motion a domino effect and end up causing a system blackout. For this reason, energy flows must be managed with the DISTRIBUTION NETWORK.
- Energy consumption is experiencing unsustainable growth, which is why it is so important to promote rational use. There is a limit to what we can generate based on fossil fuels: as they become more scarce they will be more expensive to obtain, causing energy prices to rise. And sooner or later they will run out. USERS are fundamental to managing resources and must change their habits.
- Certain CONSUMPTIONS can be delayed without affecting our comfort: tasks such as heating a hot water storage tank, charging electric vehicles and switching on certain household appliances can be managed efficiently using a management system, based on forecasts.
The secret and the true innovation lies in basing energy management on these five agents jointly and simultaneously. They are all interrelated and essential for a successful model.
There is no unit on the market that provides an energy service like the one defined for this project, with hardware and software specifically adapted for domestic settings and small businesses, and that also provides users with necessary information to be able to see the direct impact that redistributing consumptions has on their energy costs.
This project is supported by CDTI (Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology) through its EEA Grants programme.
The Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) is a Public Business Entity under the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness that fosters the technological development and innovation of Spanish companies. It is the entity that channels the funding and support applications for national and international R&D&i projects of Spanish companies.
The European Economic Area Financial Mechanism, or EEA Grants, represent the contribution of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to reduce economic and social disparities and to strengthen cooperation with beneficiary countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic and Romania).