The call was part of the EU Interreg-project Smart Cities Accelerator, and the challenge was to present new ideas on how district heating companies can achieve a lower forward temperature without affecting the end-user negatively.
A key aspect of the call was to find incentives for the end-users, i.e. the customers, to comply with the requirements of a lower forward temperature in district heating systems.
Several private companies and clusters of companies took up the OI challenge; three made it to the finale in Lund, Sweden, and in the end, Neogrid emerged as winner with their solution called PreHEAT.
PreHEAT is a collaborative cloud-based heating controller for energy efficient buildings that aim to bridge the gap between the end-users and the system operators. The heating control system allows optimized control of the supply temperature in buildings connected to the district heating, and PreHEAT also provides monitoring and reporting tools to allow the building occupant/manager to ensure that the heating system and its substation are running well.
“This control is very relevant in the context of efforts to reduce the supply temperature of district heating systems, as it provides deeper insight at building level”, explains Pierre Vogler-Finck, Research and Development Scientist at Neogrid. Neogrid has ten years of R&D experience with smart-grid and energy-related technologies, and although most of their research projects have been within the field of electricity, Neogrid’s knowledge and competences are very usable and compatible with district heating.
“It is two different energy systems, but the grids are quite alike and so are the digital solutions. Neogrid is good and experienced in developing digital solutions that integrate more intelligent technology to support efficient and flexible usage of energy”, says Pierre Vogler-Finck.
He acknowledges that the difference in Danish and Swedish regulations of the energy markets can become a challenge, but at systemic and technical levels, the problems are similar and so are the solutions.
“We have more experience with the Danish market than other markets like the Swedish one, but the Danish district heating market consists of several hundred small, medium and large actors, each using different temperatures, different technical solutions and different price systems. The absence of a generic framework is part of the problem, and therefore system integration is a keyword to us”, says Pierre Vogler-Finck.
“Our solution, PreHEAT, is to develop a collaborative cloud-based heating controller, a generic gateway-system that is able to integrate into systems on both grid and building levels, but we’ll need active collaboration from users and operators like Høje Taastrup Fjernvarme and Kraftringen to make it work.”
The jury of the OI Call in Lund comprised of researchers, legal experts and representatives from the two district heating companies, and they were not in doubt: PreHEAT will be the perfect tool for the job of achieving a lower forward temperature without affecting the end user negatively.
Especially PreHEAT’s functionality impressed the jury and they found that the compulsory sustainable report for the submitted proposal well was articulated.
“We are convinced that systems such as PreHEAT can contribute to lowering the supply temperature in the district heating network and create a win-win situation for all parties. Both for the environment, the customers and for us as an energy company”, said David Edsbäcker, project manager at Kraftringen.
Uffe Schleiss, technical manager at Høje Taastrup Fjernvarme, was impressed too.
“The call was an opportunity for us to get new inputs and get access to new tools, that will allow us to lower the flow temperature, thus lowering the heat loss in our district heating system”, explains Uffe Schleiss. “In the long term, we hope to use PreHEAT as one of the tools to lower the flow temperature.”