Three phase heat pumps kan strengthen the power grid

October 11, 2016

R&D project with data from Bornholm Energi & Forsyning and TREFOR El-net shows how TSOs can prevent imbalances when customers have smart meters.

Smart steering of heat pumps in homes can make the power grid more stable, shows a research and development project carried out by Dansk Energi, Bornholms Energi & Forsyning, TREFOR El-net and Aalborg University with support from’s ForskEL-pool.

The project ’Netselskabets udfordringer på grund af varmepumper’ is both scientific and very practical. Researchers have made complicated calculations on possible imbalances on the power grid and they have combined results with data from two families in Tejn on Bornholm and a heat pump at a familiy at TREFOR El-net and a heat pump in the laboratory at Aalborg University.

-       Vi have data from the houses in Tejn and from Bornholm Energi & Forsyning's 0,4 kV-net og 0,4/10 kV-transformer station. Data shows that a better steering of just two heat pumps can create a fall in the power imbalance of up to 38 percent at the transformer station, says Philip Douglass Ph.D. in engineering from Dansk Energi.

Hardware and software

The vantage point for the project is that these years an enormous displacement is occurring from an energy system with central electricity production to a system with local windmills, sun cells, batteries, electric cars and heat pumps. The electricity system is being turned on its head and this gives the distribution network new challenges - e.g. in relation to voltage quality and harmonic distortions as a result from effect electronics at the customer.

-       The displacements can be solved by strengthening the distribution network or by controlling heat pumps, batteries and other equipment. Unfortunately, not much equipment is built to be controlled, says Philip Douglass.

Through the project Aalborg University has developed a prototype of a frequency transformer for the heat pump of the future, which - according to demands from the Danish building requirements - should be able to cover almost the entire water and room heating without using an immersion heater.

The newly developed frequency transformer is equipped with a steering algorithm that measures the voltage on all three phases and draws more electricity from the phases that have a relatively high voltage. In this way the heat pumps in the experiment have had the possibility of compensating for imbalances that occur in other places in the local network.

-       The heat pumps can draw intelligently on the phases, says Philip Douglass.

Economic implications

The R&D project gives valuable knowledge and inspiration for dialogue with officials about demands for future products and with producers about incorporation of concrete solutions. Before the project is concluded Dansk Energi's analytical department will make suggestions for the economical implications.

-       Our test shows that we can develop smarter heat pumps by adding hardware such an active rectifier that is controlled by algorithms and which is continuously fed with data from the electricity network. The hardware kan also help solve problems by moving the effect between the three phases. Technically it is possible - the question is whether there is money to be saved, says Phillip Douglas.

The experiences from the heat pumps can also be used on other equipment if they are coupled to the power grid with three phases. This includes hybrid units with sun cells/batteries, recharging equipment for electrical cars and industrial facilities.

-       We have gained much theoretical and practical knowledge which can be used on all three phased effect electronics, says Philip Douglass.

The R&D project ’Netselskabets udfordringer på grund af varmepumper’ concludes within the next few months. The results live on in other R&D projects such as EcoGrid 2.0 where appr. 1,000 families from Bornholm are participating with their heat pumps and electrical radiators to test flexible power consumption and market models.

-       We should of course couple knowledge from the two projects, says project manager Kim Koch-Hansen from Bornholms Energi & Forsyning, whose role it is to find interested customers, install equipment and survey meters.
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SPØRGSMÅL og besøg i Villa Smart

Pauli Hjorth Hansen (Østkraft)
Telefon: 56 930 952 eller 40 283 007


Jesper Tornbjerg (Dansk Energi)
Telefon: 35 300 470


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