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Intelligent combined systems use fluctuating solar power and ensure a sustainable energy supply

More and more residential buildings, public buildings and commercial enterprises are being heated by small, decentralized combined heat and power (CHP) units. The produced current can be fed in or consumed locally. The already very cheap solar power generation makes the combination of the mini-cogeneration plants with a photovoltaic system attractive.

The intelligent coupling of PV systems with small CHPs offers attractive and systematically challenging prospects. Thus, CHPs can take on additional tasks and compensate for the fluctuating performance offered by photovoltaics. Conversely, the load management and also the storage of the PV system can make the operation of the CHP more uniform and relieve the aggregate. The coupling of the photovoltaic system with heating systems based on heat pumps (HP) also offer attractive possibilities. Heat pumps as a switchable load can counteract the fluctuations in solar energy, thus increasing the consumption of own energy and relieving the electricity supply.

Depending on the external conditions, the operation of such combination systems can be carried out with a view to individual optimization of the individual consumption, grid relief, energy optimization criteria, “pooled virtual power station” or a combination of these different approaches. To examine these perspectives in more detail, to identify the most technically and economically best approaches and to make them accessible with application-specific system solutions, is the main goal of the research group.

Photovoltaic and CHP / HP heating systems in an optimal way

For the application area of ​​building-related PV systems and CHP / WP heating systems, a modular system of mutually compatible, flexibly usable and combinable energy supply and control components, including intelligent operating strategies and control methods, shall be created. The aim is to consider different CHP technologies and heat pumps as well as the use of electrical and thermal storage as well as the load management of electrical loads. The concrete objective of the research project is the development of practical, optimized system solutions that optimally combine photovoltaic and CHP / WP heating systems, open up synergies and are suitable for the variety of application situations in the building. This includes, in particular, adapted components, compatible interfaces, novel control systems and design methods as well as the scientific proof of the functionality, reliability and economy in operation.

In this research group, the inverter manufacturer and system solution expert SMA Solar Technology AG cooperates with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning specialist Vaillant. The scientific support is provided by the RWTH Aachen University of Applied Sciences.

Power management system is smart-grid-ready

The joint R & D efforts are being made to achieve a universal, cross-manufacturer-compatible combination of the modular system with standardized interfaces. The energy management systems to be developed are intended to improve the efficiency of the plant and significantly increase the self-consumption rate of the solar power. They should also be able to be used in different countries and in different modes of operation, including smart grid-ready.