Ecovat is looking for student for MSC thesis proposal

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Working title

 

“Introducing battery storage to facilitate a dynamic grid connection”

Background

Currently, the European energy is undergoing a transition towards a more sustainable future. The use of fossil fuels is phased out, and more and more electricity is produced by renewable energy sources. One of the drivers for this transition, is the urge to restrain the development of climate change. The European Commission therefore introduced a roadmap to 2050, by when the CO emissions should be reduced by 95% (where 1990 is used as reference year). The climate conference in Paris (2016) provides additional targets for the maximal temperature increase, stressing the urgency of this energy transition once more.

This has multiple consequences for the European energy system. The introduction of renewable energy sources, in particular wind power and solar PV shifts generation from centralised power plants to decentral locations. Infrastructure is affected by this shift and new congestion challenges might occur all around the power system. Furthermore, wind and solar PV have an intermittent behaviour and limited predictability, while the electrical supply and demand needs to be in continuous balance. This increases the price volatility on the electricity markets, and the frequency at which the power system is challenged with imbalances. Add the electrification of the energy sector in general as a consequence of decarbonising the heat supply and transportation sector, and the necessity to come up with smart solutions to manage this transition become apparent.

Problem definition

Ecovat developed a high efficiency seasonal thermal energy storage, in which in a short period of time large quantities of energy can be stored centrally. From this, for example a residential area or a large office building can be supplied in their heating and cooling demand. Various complementary technologies (e.g. CHP, PVT, heat pumps, electric heating resistors) can be used to charge the thermal energy storage. The challenge is doing so in a smart way, thus both having sufficient thermal energy available to provide in the demand, as also creating value in the electricity markets.

Value in the electricity markets can be found in the potential flexibility towards the grid. Three types of flexibility can be distinguished (see figure). First of all, electricity prices will show an increasing volatility. By charging in periods of minimal prices, electrical energy can be converted into heat at low costs. Secondly, flexibility related to system imbalances can be provided. When a surplus of production is present in the system, an Ecovat is able to rapidly use this surplus in electricity by converting it to heat and simultaneously resolving the system imbalance. Third, power systems have a limited capacity, and expanding the entire power system for a peak power that might occur only a few times a year is a costly investment. Therefore, currently new ways of providing flexibility in demand (e.g. demand response, peak shaving, load shifting) are investigated. An Ecovat is able to provide to shift a load to off-peak hours, based on a dynamic capacity of the grid connection.

The challenge is combining the three forms of flexibility and come with a system optimal solution, maximising value and charging the Ecovat for the lowest price possible. In order to effectively do so, local power flows need to be managed, making sure the dynamic capacity of the grid connection is not exceeded. Ecovat wants to integrate a local battery storage to manage the power flow over the grid connection, while maintaining sufficient electrical energy for the local system. The corresponding control system is yet to be developed and the battery system has to be dimensioned for the Ecovat system. Furthermore, possibilities to create additional value with this battery storage should be analysed (e.g. the possibilities to supply energy to the power system in case of an imbalance with a shortage of supply).

Research questions

Combining these two challenges, the following research questions are defined:

  • How can a battery storage be integrated such that the power flow over the grid connection can be effectively managed?
  • Which additional opportunities does a local battery storage provide in adding value for the Ecovat solution?
  • What should be the corresponding battery system’s specification and design?

Please send your open solicitation with C.V, background and motivation to ir. Rik Fonteijn – Officer Integration Electricity Markets at Ecovat Renewable Energy Technologies. Email: Rik.fonteijn@ecovat.eu.