Laboratory for smart energy

Energy efficiency Energy systems Data analysis Electricity supply Climate adaptation Waste water and water discharge CO2 separation and CO2 storage Water supply

In Copenhagen’s new Nordhavn district, researchers, authorities, utility companies, and industry are demonstrating in practice how to make the future energy supply and consumption ‘smart’.

The EnergyLab Nordhavn project will investigate and demonstrate how to carry out a conversion of the entire energy system. A conversion taking into account the fact that energy production from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power is fluctuating, and the relationship between energy production and energy consumption has to be balanced in a different way than with fossil fuels, where power stations can turn the production up and down depending on demand.

Nordhavn is interesting as a living laboratory because it is a newly established low-energy district complying with the highest energy standards, featuring all kinds of modern building automation systems.

The district can therefore form the framework for a number of experiments and projects carried out under realistic conditions in full scale. Furthermore, Nordhavn is not an isolated system, but connected with the rest of Copenhagen and thus with the existing energy infrastructure, such as the district heating network.

“One could ask if we even have to have a district heating system in a low-energy city,” says project manager of EnergyLab Nordhavn Christoffer Greisen, DTU Electrical Engineering, and continues:

 “But we believe that you should look at the district heating system as a network between the many different, local heating generators—for example where waste heat from supermarket cooling systems are also included. And where we can examine how best to utilize this. Do we use waste heat to heat the supermarket, or should it be used for hot water production in the neighbouring property, or something completely different?

Photo: Ole Malling, By & Havn

Nordhavn will become the sustainable urban district of the future.

The next five years, it will function as a living laboratory for renewable energy solutions.

Photo: Ole Malling, By & Havn.


Flexibility rewarded

Flexibility in the energy consumption is essential when it is to be covered by renewable energy sources that do not necessarily produce power when we need it. The project therefore focuses in particular on how the various components in the energy system interact, and on how to create flexibility by moving, e.g., the consumption of one energy source to another, or from one time of day to another.

In this way, the apartments—including their residents—are included as power-adjusting elements that can create flexibility in the system.

“Today, most of us pay for a fixed amount of energy being delivered to our homes at all times. However, we are in the process of making agreements with residents for a new type energy bill. If you as a resident offer to be flexible—for example by agreeing that the room temperature can fluctuate between 19 and 22 degrees Celsius—the system can benefit from this flexibility, and the resident can get a lower energy bill,” says Christoffer Greisen.

Electric cars and, e.g., the district heating system and cooling systems are also part of EnergyLab Nordhavn’s energy infrastructure. In joint parking facilities, electric cars can be charged when electricity is cheap. And electric car owners can then make a small part of the power in the car’s battery—for example five per cent—available on the grid at times when wind turbines and solar cells are not producing power, and in this way create flexibility and help stabilize the grid.

The project is scheduled to run until and including 2019. Researchers believe that the first results and data collections will start ticking in during the second half of 2016.