The Building Energy Watcher, BEYWATCH project, developed a multidisciplinary solution to improve the overall energy efficiency of the electric value chain from the utility company to the households. The solution implies reducing energy consumption at home, managing energy demand, balancing demand and production, diversifying local energy sources, and providing economic incentives to the main actors.
According to the World Energy Outlook 2011, in 2030, global energy demand is expected to be 50% higher and related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 55% higher. In particular, households are responsible for a large percentage of the overall energy consumption. From 1990 to 2003 EU households energy consumption increased by 17,4%. Within households, heating, water warming and white goods are the main energy consumers. In this context, the use of
damage-reducing techniques to reduce energy, GHG emissions and the diversification of energy sources to secure energy supply become a must at household level in the EU.
To tackle these issues, the project delivered a solution integrating low consumption white goods, solar energy sources, energy consumption monitoring and energy load management with the overall objective of reducing GHG emissions and improving household energy efficiency. Final conclusions have been reached in 2011. With a consortium including 8 EU partners, the project was funded under FP7_ICT and coordinated by Telefónica Investicación y Desarrollo (Spain).
BEYWATCH’s main outcomes are (i) energy-aware white goods, (ii) integration of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) in the household network, (iii) energy management agent, (iv) low-cost in-home network, (v) energy management supervisor and (vi) potential business models:
- Energy-aware white goods: the consortium aimed at eco-designing electric appliances with two different energy efficiency approaches. The first one is a reduced consumption approach suitable for permanently enabled white goods. The second one is a remote control approach for arbitrarily enabled white goods.
- Integration of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) in the household network: Photovoltaic and solar panels were integrated into a Combined Photovoltaic and Solar (CPS) system able to feed electricity to either the household or the grid. Moreover, the CPS system was designed to act as a unique network node providing hot water to the sanitary and electric energy to the appliances upon commands issued by the management agent. This behaviour led to an overall home efficiency beyond the one with a standard CPS without networking capabilities.
- Energy management agent: This tool manages energy consumption at house level through data analysing of a number of inputs such as the users’ preferences or the power demand and supply balance. The agent minimizes consumption by controlling white goods and CPS system operation and modelling the user behaviour.
- Low-cost in-home network: Benchmarking activities were conducted for selecting Zigbee and Wifi as the best technologies for communicating the energy management agent with the white goods and the CPS system.
- Energy management supervisor: This software tool allows balancing the equation between customer energy demand and utility energy production. The supervisor manages the aggregated demand by controlling agents. Directions are given based on both users’ preferences as energy production at household and utility level.
- Potential business models: Business support services applications were developed to ensure consumption measuring and management of the utility-customer relationship.
Ideally, the energy management system would be commercialized by Distributor System Operators (DSOs) while IT providers would be responsible for technical support. End-users would be households or SMEs and, to some extent, the DSOs themselves. The system would benefit both sides: the DSOs could adapt the energy demand curve to their production preferences, especially during peak hours, and households could reduce their bills. Moreover, the technologies for low consumption of white goods would ultimately be introduced in new final products. As the outcomes were demonstrated at prototype level and business plans developed, the Technology Readiness Level is estimated at 6 on the TRL scale.