Mitä energiamurros tarkoittaa kaupungeissa?

 

Globaalin energiamurroksen taustalla vaikuttavia tekijöitä on useita, mutta kaupunkitasolla asia voidaan yksinkertaistaa. Kaupungit kuluttavat valtaosan maailman energiasta ja tuottavat yli kaksi kolmannesta kasvihuonepäästöistä. Samanaikaisesti kaupungeissa on esimerkiksi ilmanlaatuun liittyviä ongelmia, joihin on löydettävä pikaisia ratkaisuja. Edelläkävijäkaupungit ovat jo sitoutuneet päästövähennyksiin joko vapaaehtoisesti tai säätelyn kautta. Useat kaupungit pyrkivät jopa päästöttömyyteen seuraavan vuosikymmenen kuluessa. Käytännössä puhtaat, vähähiiliset energiamuodot ovat tässä avainasemassa.

Miten puhtaaseen ja vähähiiliseen tulevaisuuteen päästään?

Kaupungeilla on käytössään monia teknologisia keinoja, joiden avulla ne voivat siirtyä kohti puhdasta, vähähiilistä energiaa. Polttoaineiden käytön vähentäminen ja uusiutuvien energiamuotojen osuuden lisääminen ovat näistä ilmeisimmät. Myös olemassa olevan infrastruktuurin ja järjestelmien tehokkuutta lisäämällä tai esimerkiksi hyödyntämällä hukkalämpöä tai kaukolämmön ja -jäähdytyksen välisiä synergioita voidaan saada merkittäviä hyötyjä.

Toinen suuri tekijä yhtälössä on kysyntä. Energian kulutusta voidaan merkittävästi pienentää parantamalla rakennusten energiatehokkuutta ja esimerkiksi älykkään energianhallinnan ja varastojen avulla huipputehon tarvetta voidaan vähentää ja siirtää huipputuntien ulkopuolelle.

Mitä seuraavaksi?

Muutos kohti puhdasta ja vähähiilistä tulevaisuutta on jo käynnissä, ja sen vauhti on kiihtymässä. Nyt on oikea hetki tehdä strategiset päätökset ja ottaa ensimmäiset käytännön askeleet. Fiksuimmat ja nopeimmat toimijat ratkaisevat, millaiseksi tulevaisuuden energia-ala muovautuu kaupungeissa. Muiden tehtäväksi jää yrittää mukautua tähän tulevaisuuteen. Energiamarkkinoiden edelläkävijät etsivät aktiivisesti innovatiivisia tapoja maksimoida olemassa olevan infrastruktuurinsa käyttö osana tulevaisuuden energialiiketoimintaa ja pilotoivat samanaikaisesti uusia liiketoimintamalleja. Vitkastelijoiden osalta vaarana ei ole pelkästään omaisuuden kiihtyvä arvon aleneminen ja lopulta hukkaomaisuudeksi päätyminen, vaan he voivat myös menettää tulevaisuuden tarjoamat liiketoimintamahdollisuudet.

Voisitko antaa esimerkin?

Uusien kaupunkialueiden suunnittelu ja olemassa olevien uudelleensuunnittelu avaa konkreettisen ikkunan tulevaisuuteen. Näillä alueilla tulevaisuudessa asuvat kaupunkilaiset käyttävät arjessaan puhdasta ja vähähiilistä energiaa, joka tuotetaan älykkäällä ja joustavalla tavalla useista eri lähteistä.  Tulevaisuuden energiaverkko on kokonaisvaltainen, hajautettu järjestelmä, joka koostuu energiatehokkaista rakennuksista ja hyödyntää moninaisia paikallisia uusiutuvan energian lähteitä ja varastoja. Älykäs energiahallinta puolestaan mahdollistaa aktiivisen kysyntä- ja tarjontamallin hyödyntämisen.

Jo nyt on olemassa hienoja esimerkkejä hankkeista, joissa tulevaisuuden energiajärjestelmien mallintamisen ja simuloinnin ja avulla on voitu testata tulevaisuuden liiketoimintamallien kannattavuutta ja niiden yhteistoimintaa olemassa olevien järjestelmien kanssa. Ainakin se on selvää, että kaupunkien energiainfran rakentaminen tavalliseen tapaan ei ole enää järkevää, vaan tulevaisuuden muutospaineet täytyy pystyä huomioimaan jo tämän päivän investoinneissa.


Lue lisää VTT:n älykkäiden ja kestävien kaupunkien visiosta tuoreesta white paper ‑kannanotostamme: Let’s turn your Smart City vision into reality.

Antti Ruuska VTT
Antti Ruuska
Business Development Manager, VTT
antti.ruuska(a)vtt.fi
Twitter: @antti_ruuska

 

Smart City -vision kehittäminen vaatii luonnostaan eri teknologioiden ja tieteenalojen yhdistämistä. Käytännön sovelluksiin tähtäävänä tutkimusorganisaationa VTT on siihen paras mahdollinen kumppani. Teemme sekä julkisen ja yksityisen sektorin yritysten että teknologian tuottajien kanssa tutkimus- ja innovaatioyhteistyötä, jonka avulla voi nopeuttaa Smart City -kehitystä.  Meiltä saa opastusta vision luomisen ja konseptin kehittämisen alkuvaiheista aina älykkäiden ratkaisujen käytännön toteutuksiin asti.

Energy transition in cities -what’s it all about?

While the ongoing energy transition is driven by a multitude of factors on global scale, the issue can be simplified on city level. Cities consume vast share of global energy and produce over two thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, there is an urgent need to solve urban issues, such as those related to air quality. The forerunning cities are already committed to emission reductions, be it voluntarily or through regulation. Many are even aiming to become emission-free within the next decade or so. Effectively, this means that the main driver for energy transition in cities is the need to move towards clean, low-carbon energy.

How to get there?

The technological means to move towards clean, low-carbon energy in cities are many. Moving away from fossil fuels and increasing the share of renewable energy are the big targets. At the same time, efficiency of existing infrastructure and systems can improved. Examples of this include utilization of waste heat and for example, utilising synergies between district heating and cooling networks.

The other big factor in the equation is the demand side, where energy use can be reduced through better energy efficiency in buildings. Furthermore, smart energy management can help to shift and reduce peak loads.

What should we do next?

The change towards clean and low-carbon future is already happening and the pace of change is only accelerating. The time for strategic planning and first actions is now. It is those who move early, who will be shaping the future energy business in cities. The rest will be playing catch-up. The forerunning energy market players are actively seeking innovative ways to maximise the use of their existing infrastructure as part of the future energy business, while piloting new business models. The laggards will not only risk escalating the value-loss of assets and ending up with stranded assets, but they will also lose out on the new business opportunities that the future brings.

Give me an example, please!

The design of new city districts and re-development of existing ones opens up a concrete window to the future. Citizens, who live in those districts in the next decades, will be powering their everyday activities with the clean, low-carbon energy that benefits from smart energy generation, and distributed, resilient and flexible energy systems. The holistic energy systems that comprise of low-energy buildings, multiple sources of local renewables and storages form distributed energy networks that utilize active supply-and-demand side through smart energy management. We’ve already witnessed great outcomes when advanced modelling and simulation or energy systems has been combined with exploration of new business. The last thing we want to be doing is to build the same infrastructure that we’ve always built, even though we know the changes that lie ahead.

If you want to read more about VTT’s vision regarding smart and sustainable cities, read our new white paper: Let’s turn your Smart City vision into reality.

Antti Ruuska VTT
Antti Ruuska
Business Development Manager, VTT
antti.ruuska(a)vtt.fi
Twitter: @antti_ruuska

 

Smart City development is inherently multi-technological and cross-disciplinary, and as an application-oriented research organisation VTT is an ideal partner. We work with the public sector and private companies as well as technology providers in research and innovation activities that expedites the development of smarter cities.  We can guide you from the early phases of vision-creation and concept development to practical implementations of smart outcomes.

Building the future: The Tammela phenomenon – successful renovation of apartment buildings

VTT joined forces with the City of Tampere and local limited liability housing companies and began renovating some apartment buildings built in the 1970s and 1980s to improve their energy efficiency. The customised solutions and final outcomes far exceeded everyone’s expectations.

Four years ago, I walked with a colleague of mine in the area around Tammelantori square, getting acquainted with the blocks of flats there. The City of Tampere, in collaboration with VTT, had organised an open application process to identify local limited liability housing companies that were willing to become demonstration projects for improved energy efficiency. We felt that we were beginning the process much too late. The windows in the buildings from the 1970s had been replaced, and many of the houses had received new façades. The city, however, wanted to focus on the district of Tammela.

Energy efficiency improvement via a staged approach

From among the applicants, we were able to select eight limited liability housing companies to which we applied the principle of a ‘staged’ deep renovation of building stock included in the Energy efficiency directive. According to this principle, the energy efficiency of buildings can be improved by means of a staged renovation. Only two of the eight housing companies selected for the demonstration implemented the renovations of both façades and technical systems at the same time. Two other companies had already done some improvement measures.

On these four demonstration sites, improvements in energy efficiency were achieved by replacing the windows, installing additional insulation on the façades, renewing the lighting in the common facilities and installing a heat recovery and exhaust air heat pump. Furthermore, adjustments were made in the building’s technical systems, which included reducing the supply pressure of domestic water. The same measures, with the exception of additional insulation, were implemented in three other sites. One of the sites only invested in different types of heat pumps. In addition, all the sites implemented some other minor refurbishment measures.

Concrete turned into a real gem

Every housing company needed an active moving spirit for the project, either a chair of the housing company board or a house manager. One of these persons also happened to be an enthusiastic housing investor, who understood the financial incentive associated with the pilot. In some of the companies, choosing to join the pilot took no more than a single housing company meeting, whereas others needed several sessions before reaching a decision.

Now, subsequently, more than 90% of the housing company share owners have been satisfied with their decision to become one of the pilot sites in the EU GUGLE project. The residents of the demonstration that was the last to be completed are particularly proud of the results: they present their house as a gem among the contemporary housing stock of basic concrete buildings around it (photo).

Tammela

Energy savings amounting to a significant 40%

The impact of the EU GUGLE project is not limited to the pilot projects. When we were looking for pilot projects four years ago, hardly anyone was familiar with heat recovery and exhaust air heat pump technology. The technology has made its breakthrough in the market over the last four years. The monitoring of the EU GUGLE projects and open communications about them have played a key role in this.

Cooperation with the housing companies has raised many questions about general claims. In the EU GUGLE pilots, the decisions were eventually quite easy to make. One housing investor promoted the renovations in his housing company, the senior residents in the housing companies involved were enthusiastic about the matter, and, on top of everything else, energy savings were achieved. To date, the combined energy savings calculated from the pilot projects have amounted to 40%. The monitoring of the pilots will continue for a further two years.

Further information on the pilot projects: http://www.eu-gugle.eu/

Terttu Vainio VTT

Terttu Vainio, Senior Scientist
terttu.vainio (a) vtt.fi, +358 40 508 0983

From off-peak electricity to comprehensive energy saving

Over the last few weeks, it has been well nigh impossible to avoid seeing headlines about demand response, intelligent home automation and remotely readable electricity meters. Finland has been said to be a global frontrunner in the development of intelligent energy systems, which opens possibilities in the large and global market. However, consumers may remain uncertain as to whether they can benefit from this development in ways other than through the old familiar off-peak electricity.

In a recent news article, the Finnish Broadcasting Company wrote about how new intelligent meters will change everyday domestic life, while the proliferation of intelligent technology was reported in March to create entirely new kinds of electricity products on the electricity market. When reading the latter article, in particular, the famous bubble burst – it was merely about the old and familiar hourly rates for electricity. For many consumers, hourly rates have remained an alternative akin to the lottery – electricity may be cheap, or it may make a deep dent in your wallet.

Hourly rates are merely the tip of the iceberg of the changes emerging below the surface of the energy market. With regard to intelligent technology, one of the most concrete examples is Fingrid’s Datahub to be deployed in 2019. This increases the efficiency of the information exchange in the electricity retail market, offering an interface for business development. Elsewhere, according to its views as presented in the Commission’s winter package, the EU wants to shorten the imbalance settlement period to 15 minutes from 60 minutes, thus shaping the operation of the market to become much more dynamic.

Today, intelligent technology and dynamicity are most visibly connected on the electricity market in the form of demand response, the idea of which is pretty simple on paper: based on hourly electricity rates, demand is moved from expensive hours to cheaper hours, which is seen on the consumer’s electricity bill as savings. Fortum is currently running a commercial electricity demand response trial, in which a virtual power plant with a capacity of over 100 kW has been formed from the hot water boilers of 70 electrically heated detached houses and utilised in maintaining the power balance of the network. Examples of demand response can also be found in the heating sector: Fourdeg connects a weather forecast and a cloud service to a thermostat, allowing the apartment’s temperature to be adjusted room-specifically, saving energy and therefore also money.

Fingridin Tuntihinta-mobiilisovellus

Consumers can already use, for example, Fingrid’s Tuntihinta (Hourly rate) mobile application to monitor the hourly spot rate on the electricity market and receive alerts if the hourly rate exceeds the alert limit set by the user. Demand response requires an electricity agreement tied to the market rate. However, the savings remain marginal when consumption is controlled manually.

In the future, electricity is not merely a commodity going from the wall socket to an appliance; instead, electricity and heat will be fundamentally linked with each other, with homes featuring small-scale production of both, and storage solutions as well. Furthermore, these different components of the system must be governed in a controlled manner so that it is comfortable to spend time at home. Understanding all this requires combining many different areas of competence and points of view into a single whole, which may appear to the consumers as an insurmountable obstacle for participating in the active control of the energy consumption at home.

Every consumer is different and wishes to participate in controlling the energy consumption of their home in different ways. In order to make this participation easier, we have launched a project called DyRES (Dynamic platform for demand RESponse) in which we will create a dynamic calculation platform for the optimisation of flexible use of electricity and heat. Our approach is slightly topsy-turvy: by making the models more complex, we can simplify things and bring them closer to practice. This complexity comprises the operation and characteristics of each individual appliance utilised in the demand response, building models, control circuits and the system’s control logic in accordance with the consumer’s behaviour, and at lot more besides. However, we will conceal all this complexity behind a clear user interface that suits the consumer’s needs. The concept will be demonstrated first by simulating residential areas, but the developed platform will suit the implementation of demand response for complex industrial processes as well, thanks to the Apros® modelling tool we use.

DyRES

DyRES combines analytic calculations, dynamic simulation and a consumer interface into one, single whole. This enables the transparent utilisation of algorithms and optimisation in practical applications intended for consumers. We will discuss the benefits offered to different user groups by the calculation platform in more detail in the next part of the blog.

The purpose of the platform we have developed is ultimately to guide a consumer’s use of electricity and heat in such a way that the energy consumption and related costs are reduced without compromising living comfort. This is enabled by the home automation and intelligent electricity meters so often mentioned in the news. A visual interface between the automation and the consumer enables the consumers to participate according to their own level of activity – or they can just be passive participants. However, the burning question is who is motivated by what to participate in the demand response: money, environmental impacts or something else entirely?

VTT is involved in the Energy Efficiency 2.0 in Building seminar on 22 May 2017 at Heureka in Vantaa, Finland. So please, come and discuss with us what demand response services should take into consideration from the perspectives of the consumer, developer and service provider.

Tomi Thomasson VTT

Tomi Thomasson, Research Scientist 

Elina Hakkarainen VTT

              Elina Hakkarainen, Research Scientist
Twitter: @e_Hakkarainen

Mikko Jegoroff VTT

Mikko Jegoroff, Research Scientist

Energy efficiency is the key component of sustainable development in cities

miimu_airaksinen

The UN Habitat New Urban Agenda was released a few weeks in Quito, Equador. The task to write a new urban agenda has not been easy, given that pre-conditions and interests are different in different UN countries. At the same time, there is an urgent need to act in favour of sustainable development in cities.

The striking fact is that urban settlements covers roughly 2.7% of the surface area of the globe, but consume 70% of resources and hence produces 75% of CO2 emissions. Moreover, we face many challenges if we are to transform our cities into healthy, safe and comfortable living and working areas.

Starting from these pre-conditions, the New Urban Agenda for the first time highlights the importance of energy. As is well-known, energy production is the main source of CO2 emissions and air quality problems in cities. Energy is needed in cities for transport, heating, cooling, lighting as well as for water and sanitary systems. We also need energy to run equipment and appliances. To transform ourselves into low carbon society, we need to de-carbonise our energy production, but also, very importantly, we need to use energy more efficiently. Energy that does not need to be produced is the most environmental friendly. Energy efficiency is not only beneficial in preventing pollution but is also a key component for resilient cities. Energy efficiency entails reducing overall demand and more importantly reducing peak demand. In combination with smart technologies, demand can be controlled based on self-learning and adaptive algorithms to reduce and shift the demand even more efficiently without compromising users’ well-being, but rather in ways that can also further enhance well-being.

Smart cities and efficient resources

In addition to energy, the concept of smart cities was for the first time raised onto the agenda. The concept of smart cities is quite unique, since it is applicable both to industrialised cities/districts and to developing economies. The benefit of smart cities is that by using easy-to-install and adaptable sensors and self-learning control algorithms, existing infrastructure can be made more efficient. Moreover, new methods allow for generating urban services more efficiently in developing countries, without heavy and costly infrastructure requirements. Good examples for this are the implementation of renewable energy sources for cities and communities. In addition, smart communications enable citizen engagement and ownership within their own living areas, which evidently improves the perceived living quality and attractiveness of the area.

Smart systems enable us to use our resources more efficiently. This can be done by using and combining data from different sources. Currently, in modern buildings, there are typically over 20 000 data points, and hence in cities there exists an unimaginable amount of data; it is evident that no-one has the capacity to process all the data. We need, therefore, smart self-learning and predictive systems to make the most of the data available. One of the leading principles in smart cities is to enrich data to create meaningful information that supports our decision-making and helps in making our everyday lives run smoothly and that helps us to achieve environmental sustainability. More importantly, this saves time for the most important things in our lives.

Miimu Airaksinen
Research Professor
UN Habitat Policy Unit 9

Miimu Airaksinen was nominated in 2015 as an expert for the United Nations Policy Unit 9 on Urban Services and Technology to prepare the UN urbanization strategy.

Twitter: @MiimuAiraksinen

VTT supporting energy planning in Namibia

The moment you land on Hosea Kutako International Airport next to the capital of Namibia, Windhoek, you quickly realise you’re in a special place. Surrounded by a savannah landscape, rolling hills and an occasional wild animal you can’t help but feel a sense of adventure. This feeling grows stronger when you get an opportunity to explore the vast country more; Places such as Etosha National Park, the sand dunes in the Namib Naukluft National Park or simply the rough but beautiful wilderness everywhere in the country will impress even a more experienced traveller. But behind these amazing landscapes, serious challenges arise and many of them relate to climate change.

IMG_0739

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) southern Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions to the impacts of climate change. Climate change vulnerability is especially high concerning extreme events such as increased drought causing water stress, land degradation, desertification and loss of biodiversity. As a major part of the population is reliant on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, livestock management and fishing, these events can endanger the food security and the overall development of the region.

At the same time, among other development challenges, many of the countries in the region are facing big decisions concerning the development of their energy sector.  For example, the Namibian energy sector has seen very little investment on electricity production capacity, making the country very reliant on energy imports. As other countries in the region are also experiencing difficulties in securing their electricity supply due to aging energy infrastructure and growing consumption, major investments would be needed.

Namibia is situated on shores of the Atlantic Ocean north from neighbouring South Africa. It is a vast, dry country with a population of only 2.3 million.

Namibia is truly at a crossroad concerning the development of its energy sector, and the decisions made now will have a major impact for several decades. Fortunately, Namibia possesses a significant potential for utilising renewable energy sources, especially solar.

Sunset in Swakopmund, Namibia

Informed decisions about future sustainable energy system

During recent years, VTT has been involved in energy policy development in Namibia by supporting the work of Ministry of Mines and Energy of Namibia. Currently, VTT works on a project related to energy efficiency and renewable energy options for the Namibian fishing industry.

Project manager Miika Rämä with Mr. Peya Hitula, the General Manager of fishing company Tunacor.

Interest on energy issues has been high, not least because of rising price of electricity: a 65 % increase on average during past 5 years for commercial and large power user consumers. In general, concerns on the electricity supply are currently a hot topic of public discussion.

The need for the capacity building on energy issues in the region is high. For example, the changes in electricity system operation and management due to increasing solar based electricity production would benefit from smart grid and electricity storage solutions. Currently, the country is moving towards a highly distributed electricity system with a significant number of relatively small scale power plants in development. Namibia’s fist photovoltaic power plant of 4.5 MW in capacity was inaugurated in 13th May 2015.

The Namibians also face the problem of evaluating which technology providers actually can guarantee reliable systems, and do not just try to sell their product for buyers with limited knowledge and experience on the technologies and their profitability. Thus capacity building by a neutral party such as VTT has been highly appreciated by the stakeholders met in the projects.

There is a lot of room for very important work in the region, and the expertise of VTT’s energy systems specialists can serve the Namibians for making better decisions for future sustainable energy system. This work can also contribute in tackling the challenge of climate change adaptation. Not perhaps by the scale of activities, but by setting an example that with given resources and careful planning a 100 % renewable electricity system is a realistic target.

Current project team (from the left): Kati Koponen and Miika Rämä from VTT, Nils Hauffe from NWV Market Discovery, Inc.

Kati Koponen, Research Scientist

Miika Rämä, Research Scientist

 

See also:

Research report: Development of Namibian energy
sector

The Energy and Environment Partnership (EEP)

International Renewable Energy Symposium (IRES) – NAMIBIA

Embassy of Finland in Windhoek