SFEER: Scheduling a fleet of micro-CHP appliances

Micro-CHP appliances are small Combined Heat and Power systems that soon will replace the central heating systems in normal private houses. A micro-CHP is a system that consumes natural gas and produces heat and – as a by-product during the heat production - electricity. The heat is used for the heat demand in the home such as central heating, for showering, hot water taps etc. When the produced heat is not immediately consumed in the house, the heat can up to a certain limit be stored in a thermal store (a hot water reservoir or boiler). The electricity can be used in the home or, when not needed, it can be exported to the electricity distribution network. Due to the thermal store, the consumption of heat and the production of heat (and hence electricity) are decoupled.

In this project we plan to do research on the consequences of scheduling thousands / millions of micro-CHP appliances. Up to now there has not been performed a thorough study on the consequences of introducing thousands and millions of micro-CHP appliances to the market from a fleet operation point of view. It is crucial to study controllability and scalability effects before severe inefficiencies or even problems occur in fleet operation and control (e.g. strong or disproportional increases in the electricity imbalance market-exposure of the service provider operating the fleet, inefficient commercial utilization of the electricity exported to the distributions networks, physical disruptions in the operation of distribution networks, etc.). The control and scheduling algorithms need to optimize the system in real-time. Because most optimization algorithms are designed for off-line operation, new techniques need to be developed.

This work will be performed by two PhD students. One of these PhD students will be funded by Essent and GasTerra (formerly known as Gasunie Trade&Supply) and will work on local optimisation strategies for a small scale test bed system. The second PhD student, funded by STW, will study the (technical as well as economical) consequences of scheduling/controlling thousands / millions of micro-CHP appliances. In particular this PhD student will study scalability, robustness and dependability issues. The two students will have to work close together, because their research subjects are closely related.

More information can be found on the Energy in Twente website.

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