In the SmartEnergyLab, scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg, Germany are investigating how to network various electrical household appliances and operate them remotely. The researchers can analyze, assess, and develop almost any energy-management system for controlling power and heat.
In the residential housing sector in particular there is still a great deal of potential for smart energy-management systems that are capable of tailoring local power generation and consumption optimally to the power grid. “Smart energy-systems technology for the consumer end of the distribution grid is the key to sustainable, secure energy supply,” explains Christof Wittwer, group manager at Fraunhofer ISE. By mapping all the thermal and electrical energy flows, the lab constitutes a unique platform for analyzing, assessing and developing smart homes and smart grid solutions for the distribution grid. “Basically, our lab is a simulator for potential energy systems for houses,” says Wittwer.
The lab is equipped with renewable as well as electric and thermal producers and storage devices for tomorrow’s single-family dwellings and apartment buildings. It features a stand-alone 5kW cogeneration plant, a two-cubic-meter buffer storage tank, a photovoltaic simulator, several PV inverters and various stand-alone inverters, a lithium-ion battery pack, a lead battery bank, a charging infrastructure for electric vehicles as well as other equipment. The combination of virtual and real components means researchers can simulate almost any energy system. For any given system they then assess and evaluate the potential energy savings for the customer associated with managing that system.