Equipped with solar panels, heat pumps and local wind power, energy consumers can also become producers. The young Copenhagen neighborhood Nordhavn is a living lab for the flexible energy system of tomorrow.
The term “prosumer” – combining the words producer and consumer – is more than a buzzword at the new neighborhood Nordhavn in Copenhagen. Here, housing for 40,000 people and a similar number of workplaces are underway. Right from the outset, the new neighborhood is a living lab for smart energy solutions. While heat pumps and solar cell panels are the visible technologies, the most significant innovation is actually new business models which motivate local trade of energy, contributing to balancing the energy system.
“As we keep expanding the production of renewable energy in Denmark, it will happen ever more often that we see either a surplus or a lack of energy in the system. In our demonstrations, we show how local direct and indirect control contributes to balancing the energy system,” says Project Manager Christoffer Greisen, Center for Electric Power and Energy (CEE) at DTU Electrical Engineering. He coordinates EnergyLab Nordhavn. The full-scale lab unites research, the relevant authorities, and private companies within energy supply, engineering consultancy, and technology.
Local energy autonomy
Several buildings in Nordhavn are equipped with high-efficiency solar panels – the most visible is Copenhagen International School.
“The production from these solar panels is not so large as to be a concern for balancing the system, but as solar panels generally expand in Denmark, we will soon need to manage their role in the system in a new way. Therefore, it is interesting to demonstrate alternative ways of managing such local production,” Christoffer Greisen explains.
The developed solutions build on accurate monitoring of both production and consumption in real-time. The vision is that a local consumer will buy power from the solar panels when the local producer has a surplus. This happens automatically, without involving the grid operator.
Buildings store heat
The key feature of the project is the linking of power production and supply to heat production and supply. This is done through a flexible operation of heat pumps. The pumps come into operation when the general price of power is low – meaning it is possible to produce heat cheaply and sustainably. The solution also takes advantage of the fact that buildings have some capacity for storing heat. In other words, it may not be necessary to produce as much heat in periods where energy is costly.
A key criterium for success is for the projects to not remain demonstrations but become implemented in full-scale, Christoffer Greisen emphasizes:
“Our solutions all support the digitization of the energy system by demonstrating how data streams in our data warehouse create value across organizational silos. We look forward to showcasing them at DTU High Tech Summit to Energy system regulators and Danish businesses alike.”
The partners in EnergyLab Nordhavn are: The City of Copenhagen, By & Havn, HOFOR, Radius, ABB, Balslev, Danfoss, Nerve Smart Systems, METROTHERM, Glen Dimplex, DTU and PowerLabDK. The project is funded by the EUDP program of the Danish Energy Agency and the partners.
“It’s no use closing your eyes to the changes. We need to constantly keep up and try to influence the process.”
Professor Jan Madsen, DTU Compute