Apartment Building Batteries for Energy Management (Apt-Bat)
Housing associations throughout Europe are renovating existing apartment complexes to meet sustainability goals. Apt-Bat is developing a scalable and affordable solution that can enable upscaling of the use of renewable energy in apartment complexes and the reduction of peak loads on the electricity grid.
Europe’s first renovation of a 10-story 1960s apartment building into an energy-producing building was achieved recently by the housing association Bo-Ex in the Dutch city of Utrecht. However, current legislation limits the full potential of locally generated renewable energy. Utrecht University has teamed up with technical installer BOS Group, developer and manufacturer of smart storage systems Iwell, Utrecht Sustainability Institute and housing corporation Bo-Ex to develop a solution, which includes hardware, software, insights into economic benefits and legal recommendations.
Management at the building level
Due to several legal and fiscal restrictions, the most common way of getting solar or other sustainably generated power into flats in the Netherlands is to distribute the power per apartment behind the meter (and separately for shared facilities). Each apartment and shared facility needs its own solar panels and a separate connection to the grid. This leads to huge amounts of cabling and hardware and to an unused saving potential such as peak shaving and demand response. Approaching power supply at the building level can unlock this potential and lead to lower costs for providers and residents.
Energy management at the building level is technically already possible but is hampered by current legislation, although legislation based on the much broader EU directives is in the pipeline. This problem applies in all apartment buildings but is most acute in high-rise buildings. Considering the goal of making apartment complexes more sustainable as well as achieving energy-neutral new buildings, there is a great need among housing corporations, property developers, construction and installation companies and other players for a better, smarter solution than is currently possible.
Proof-of principle energy management system
The objective of the Apt-Bat project is to deliver a proof-of-principle of a product to manage energy supply centrally for an apartment complex, at the level of flats. The project investigates the combination of hardware (battery deployment), software and (automated) behaviour in a practical situation. It will also include insights into economic benefits and legal recommendations regarding implementation within the current legal and EU framework and, if necessary, recommendations for changing it. Customers will be able to realize a smart grid with generation, storage and active trading of renewable energy.
Opportunities for Dutch legislation are investigated and recommendations are developed. On this basis, prototype hardware and control software is tested in practice in the apartment complex on the Henriëttedreef in the Utrecht district Overvecht. This complex has been renovated into a unique energy-producing apartment building in the TKI-Urban Energy project 'Inside Out prototype test flat' and is already equipped with extensive monitoring and many solar panels, that are currently connected behind the meters of the flats. A digital twin will be developed and validated, which can also be used to determine the effects of future regulation.
Utrecht University's Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance is analysing and developing recommendations for the legal framework based on the national implementation of the EU Clean Energy Package. At the Faculty of Geosciences, analysis of measured data of energy consumption of apartments and central facilities is performed and of solar PV generation of the apartment building at Henriëttedreef in Utrecht. This also includes optimization of energy flows in connection with batteries through validation of modeling and algorithm development. As a subcontractor to Utrecht University, the Utrecht Sustainability Institute contributes to the project by linking to related parties and projects and supplying knowledge management and project management services.
Technical installation company BOS Group, which was behind the renovation of the energy-positive apartment building at Henriëttedreef, is conducting the cost analysis. iwell is supplying a prototype battery with an energy management system that is controlled based on PV solar panels, (peak) consumption and all flat connections. Housing co-operation Bo-Ex facilitates access to energy data from the building on Henriëttedreef, resident participation in the pilot and knowledge dissemination to other housing associations.
- BOS group
- BOS group
- Utrecht Sustainability Institute
- Utrecht Sustainability Institute