Reducing energy consumption by means of digital energy use

Landshut University of Applied Sciences is working on a management system intended to help companies and regions increase their energy efficiency and save energy costs

For Germany to achieve its energy and environmental policy objectives, energy consumption and the associated CO2 emissions need to be drastically reduced. Landshut University of Applied Sciences is now seeking to make a significant contribution to this with its new research project, “DENU - Digital Energy Use for Increasing Energy Efficiency through Interactive Integration”. It is developing an energy efficiency management system for sector coupling (i.e. for the integration of the electricity, heat, cooling sectors etc.) based on the ISO standard. It is intended to act as a tool for businesses and regions and help to implement the required energy revolution. To do this, the energy and resource demand and supply of several building complexes in Lower Bavaria will be integrated with one another in real time and taking into account weather forecasts, in order to make more efficient use of and relieve the burden on existing automated energy generation and distribution structures. Based on the measures identified and actions recommended, the researchers are also examining the extent to which, over the long term, as close as possible to 100% of the total energy demand can be covered by renewable energies. Professor Dr. Diana Hehenberger-Risse, project leader at Landshut University of Applied Sciences, is convinced: “Through a holistic consideration of all factors we are able to make savings in primary energy of over 50 per cent.” Three faculties at Landshut University of Applied Sciences are involved in the project as well as the Sehlhoff and HPE engineering firms. Moreover, Landshut University of Applied Sciences is cooperating in the project with the municipalities of Bad Füssing, Markt Ruhstorf and Pocking, the energy supplier, Stadtwerke Landshut, and with the Leipfinger-Bader and Wolf Heiztechnik companies.

Greater efficiency through intelligent building management

Professor Dr. Stefan-Alexander Arlt from the Faculty of Electrical and Industrial Engineering is responsible for data acquisition. To this end, measurement and control equipment is installed in different types of building, e.g. in hotels, swimming pools, administration and factory buildings. Professor Dr. Markus Mock from the Faculty of Computer Science links the captured data with existing energy and building efficiency management systems to create an integrated system. This data is analysed using machine learning and algorithms are developed with the aim of lowering energy consumption through the intelligent management of the buildings.

Lower energy losses, easing the burden on the power grid

“For example, when the weather is nice, the supply temperature of heat generating plants can be reduced prematurely,” explains Hehenberger-Risse, Professor in the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies and project coordinator, “or the demand for cooling reduces in buildings where shutters automatically provide shade.” It is also possible to use the stored energy from photovoltaic plants for supplying warm water in summer, and to switch off local heating networks, which are run from combined heat and power plants or renewable energy plants, at this time of year. As a result, heating grid losses (up to 60 per cent) and thus fuel consumption can be significantly reduced during the summer months. Apart from this, the burden on the power networks is relieved, as the surplus power, for example from photovoltaic plants, is used for heat generation.

Holistic approach - specific recommended actions

From the findings gathered, the researchers ultimately develop measures and recommended actions that can then be integrated in the prototypes of the new management system. “The special feature of this is the holistic and up-to-the-minute approach, plus the integration of different energy consumers and cross-sectoral integration,” explains Hehenberger-Risse. Until now there may have been many individual energy or environmental management systems, however they often work with past data and do not consider overall scenarios in terms of sector coupling. “With DENU, we are combining expertise from information, energy, environmental, engineering and geoinformation science,” says the professor.

Advantages for consumers, energy suppliers and the public sector

Industry, as well as the energy sector and local authorities could, in future, benefit from the new system. “Until now fewer than 20 per cent of companies have taken advantage of professional energy management.” says Hehenberger-Risse. “Despite their statutory obligation, many companies do not use software solutions and instead compile their consumption data manually and laboriously using Excel.” The system could also be used in the context of urban development and, as a planning instrument, play an important role in the energy-efficient development of towns and cities.  

About the Project
The “DENU - Digital Energy Use for Increasing Energy Efficiency through Interactive Integration” project will run until 2022. Professor Dr. Diana Hehenberger-Risse of Landshut University of Applied Sciences is responsible for managing the project; other project partners include the Technology Centre for Energy, the general planner, Sehlhoff, the engineering firm, HPE, the municipalities of Bad Füssing, Markt Ruhstorf and Pocking, Stadtwerke Landshut municipal utilities, and the Leipfinger-Bader and Wolf Heiztechnik companies. The project is financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy within the framework of the 6th Energy Research Programme. The total project funding is over 1.4 million euros.

Photo: Landshut University of Applied Sciences
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