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Practical realization of space heating demand response in residential buildings

Research output: Book/anthology/dissertation/reportPh.D. thesis

  • Virginia Amato
Flexible energy on the demand side is seen as an important resource in energy systems with increasing penetration of renewable energy sources. Using the buildings’ thermal mass as short-term energy storage is an option to enable demand response, which refers to the actions to temporarily change the energy use according to the needs of the energy system. Research has indicated that model predictive control (MPC) is a promising control strategy for demand response of buildings’ space heating, but its application in real buildings is still limited. This thesis investigates some of the challenges of enabling MPC of residential space heating for demand response purposes.
The first part examined the perspectives of district heating companies on whether demand response could help mitigate challenges in district heating operation and planning. The research was conducted using a mixed-method approach combining semi-structured interviews with a questionnaire survey. It was found that only one-fourth of the responding companies are familiar with the concept of demand response and the majority of those who are familiar with it have a positive view about using demand response to address challenges such as bottlenecks and peak loads. The main barriers expressed by the respondents are the inability to control the customers’ substations and the need for many customers to participate in demand response schemes.
The second part explored the practical aspects of implementing MPC in residential buildings. First, laboratory tests were conducted on three commercial thermostats to compare their behavior when following a variable heating setpoint. The laboratory test led to the selection of the thermostat that was used for the field experiment in a single-family house. The field experiment consisted in applying a variable setpoint schedule in a group of rooms to evaluate whether it is possible to shift heating consumption. The results indicate that it was possible to shift the heat load from the controlled rooms, but the effect on the whole house was limited. The experiments led to the identification of several practical issues that need to be addressed to obtain a reliable control setup.
The third part investigated how to develop an MPC scheme to control a group of rooms in a dwelling relying on indoor air temperature measurements at room level and only one heat meter measuring the total heating use. The scheme was tested through a simulation study using a calibrated simulation model. The results indicated that the proposed MPC scheme yielded the same amount of load shifting as a scheme using room-level heat metering. Finally, an experiment was conducted to collect data to generate a model for the proposed MPC scheme.
The research conducted in this thesis provided insights into the potential and challenges of the practical implementation of MPC for demand response. It was proved that demand response can benefit district heating companies and that more information should be shared to promote it. The experiments demonstrated that there are important barriers to overcome related to the use of technological equipment and its integration with the heating system of existing buildings. Finally, the research lays the groundwork for handling thermal zoning in MPC with a minimal equipment setup.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherAarhus University
Number of pages156
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Note re. dissertation

Supervisor: Steffen Petersen. <br/>PhD defence, Monday 23 January 2023

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