IEEE World Forum on Smart Grids for Smart Cities
Worldwide, the convergence of data and energy infrastructures is used to enable a better life for citizens in smart cities. Smart grids show to be a real enabler of such cities, by integrating a high penetration of renewable energy, facilitating electric transport, allowing smart buildings and increasing the involvement of the end-user in the energy scene. However, all these prospected transformations bring numerous challenges and opportunities, both at industrial and academic level. In order to address these questions, IEEE Smart Grid, in collaboration with KU Leuven/EnergyVille has gathered several international experts from the energy, telecommunications, and computing sectors in the IEEE World Forum on Smart Grids for Smart Cities (SG4SC) in Thor Central, Genk, Belgium.
Towards a system approach
An important challenge addressed during the IEEE conference is to guarantee a balanced energy provision. In that regard, multi-energy systems have a crucial role to play. In multi-energy systems different energy carriers (gas, electricity and heat) are simultaneously made available and mutual interaction is encouraged. By combining various energy resources and energy vectors and aggregating demands at larger scale levels, the system can be operated more efficiently.This way users are able to e.g. heat their home in the most sustainable and efficient way; or renewable power and heat can be better applied in industrial processes.
Improving the interaction between different energy sources has several advantages. Geert Deconinck, professor at KU Leuven/EnergyVille: “First, energy system integration can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By increasing the interaction between different energy sources, the flexibility in the energy system is enhanced and renewable energy sources can be better made use of. Furthermore, the combination of different energy sources also enables to reduce the primary energy use of fossil fuels, heat excesses can be better utilized or converted into a different energy form. Studies similarly show that a multi-energy market model is capable of reducing the social costs, primarily because of a better alignment with the production of renewable energy sources.”
Also the reliability and the provision security of the energy system increases with a multi-energy approach. By combining different energy sources a buffer is generated through which the system can be operated more smoothly. For example when a horticulturist wants to heat his greenhouse, he can choose between a CHP (Combined Heat and Power) system based on gas providing additional electricity, or he can opt for solar energy operating a boiler or make use of the waste heat of a nearby factory, according to the availability and price. Geert Deconinck: “A consumer does not necessarily care about which energy source provides the heating or cooling of his/her house. Most important is that the energy demand is met cost-efficiently and doesn’t imply any loss of comfort. It is about time that also in the Belgian context we start to consider energy carriers jointly!”
EnergyVille as a living lab
The multi-energy market models are also tested within EnergyVille. EnergyVille has developed its own ICT-platform to monitor, optimise and manage the energy use of the different buildings at Thor Park. It thereby functions as an innovative living lab that was also visited by the international guests of the IEEE conference.