Horizon 2020 Project demonstrates ‘RealValue’ in Small-Scale Energy Storage


Launched in 2015, ‘RealValue’, funded by Horizon 2020* (€12M EC funding), has just released its findings following the conclusion of the €15.5M European small-scale energy storage project. The consortium, led by Glen Dimplex and consisting of 13 partner organisations from across Europe who represent the entire electricity value chain, installed smart electric thermal storage systems (SETS) in approximately 750 properties throughout the 36-month study.

Believed to be one of the largest pilot studies with the most diverse range of ‘real’ participants of the current BRIDGE Horizon 2020** Smart Grid and Energy Storage projects, RealValue completed installations in homes, commercial premises and public buildings in three countries – Ireland (550) Germany (150) and Latvia (50).

The rich data and comprehensive customer engagement research have shown that smart electric thermal storage technology has the potential to transform how consumers use and store energy, in the form of heat, in homes and buildings

Explaining the physical and academic elements of RealValue, Rowena McCappin, Project Director at Glen Dimplex, outlines: “Having the entire electricity value chain involved in RealValue was of the utmost importance and facilitated a 360-degree overview of the potential for smart electric thermal storage.

“We fitted properties with smart electric thermal storage space and water heating devices, plus smart plugs, sensors, smart meters and gateways. Using these physical demonstrations, combined with advanced ICT and innovative modelling techniques, RealValue has proven that an aggregated population of SETS can bring benefits to all market participants.”

The RealValue project’s findings included:

  • Smart control of SETS devices simultaneously reduces charging costs of the devices while improving the thermal comfort of the end user. It also has potential to manage congestion.
  • SETS devices, deployed at scale, can have a significant impact on power system operating costs.
  • Through load-shifting and reserve provision, SETS devices facilitate more efficient power system scheduling, reducing wind curtailment and power plant cycling. 
  • SETS deployment is particularly valuable in future scenarios where fuel and carbon prices are high, or very high shares of variable renewable generation are achieved.
  • The system value of SETS is generally expected to increase in the future, with rising fuel costs and penetrations of variable renewable generation. However, the adoption of other flexibility solutions will have a large impact on the potential value SETS deployment can realise.

Commenting on the RealValue project, Kristian Ruby, eurelectric Secretary General says: “The RealValue project reveals the true value that electrification of heat can bring to the electricity grid and consumers by providing space and water heating.

“The system developed during the project can provide demand-side response flexibility allowing for arbitrage or fast frequency response without compromising customers’ comfort. I am sure that customers will be convinced of the value of this solution once it is brought to the market.”

The findings point to there being real potential for smart electric thermal storage throughout parts of Europe where there is need for more flexible demand in systems that rely increasingly on renewable generation.  Several conditions for success were identified, including:

  • Design, operational and customer engagement issues need to be addressed before distributed smart electric thermal storage becomes viable at scale.
  • Significant, and ongoing, consumer education is required.
  • ‘Buy in’ from the entire electricity supply chain is needed.

It was discovered that in Ireland and Germany the indicators of success were most promising due to e.g. high shares of wind power generation and relatively low shares of pumped/reservoir hydropower and interconnector capacity.

Greater returns would also be anticipated from Ireland, Germany and Latvia, with heat demand per dwelling approximately two-three times higher than EU nations such as Greece and Spain.

The RealValue project has shown that decentralised smart electric thermal storage systems can be successfully linked to the energy markets, so that renewable electricity is integrated better into the energy system.

Commenting on how these findings can help to further its business, Neil Stewart, CEO of Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation comments: “Through our Quantum System, which launched in 2012, we have continually invested in ‘demand side management’, growing the low carbon technology side of our business.

“RealValue has illustrated that there’s huge potential in small-scale energy storage, and our involvement in BRIDGE has paved the way for future collaborations with partners.  By working together with utility and technology companies, we hope to further investigate new business models, helping to shape the energy landscape of the future.”

The RealValue consortium is a unique collaboration between public, private and academic institutions. Its members are: beegy, EirGrid, The Environmental Change Institute (University of Oxford), ESB Networks, The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), Glen Dimplex Heating and Ventilation Ireland, Glen Dimplex Deutschland, Intel, MVV, Riga Technical University, SSE Airtricity, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and University College Dublin.

Source: RealValue