Energy producing, storing and supplying buildings

According to a paper published by the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE) on 29 June 2016, buildings can play a very important role in a decarbonised energy system.  This is because buildings are increasingly capable of producing, storing and supplying energy, which allows for a more flexible, and less fossil-fuel based system. 

In order to achieve this potential, the authors have identified ten key principles (see full list below).  The first of these is to ensure that the buildings themselves use as little energy as possible.  Indeed, the paper suggests that undertaking a deep energy reenovation of the existing building stock could reduce energy demand by up to 80% by 2050. Secondly, an increase in on-site or close by renewable energy production can also drive buildings towards a nearly zero-energy level.  Technologies to be considered include heat pumps and solar panels, all of which are becoming mainstream.  The paper also recommends stimulating a buildings capacity to store energy.  Here, the paper focuses on technologies such as home battery systems, as well as thermal and  hydrogen storage. 

It is important to note that the building envelope itself can also play a role in energy storage.  Taking concrete as an example, it has the unique ability to absorb heat during the day and release it at night, thus reducing dependence on heating and cooling.  This effect is refered to as 'Thermal Mass'. 

Ten key principles:

  1. Maximise the building’ energy efficiency first
  2. Increase onsite or nearby renewable energy production and self-consumption
  3. Stimulate energy storage capacities in buildings
  4. Incorporate demand response capacity in the building stock
  5. Decarbonise the heating and cooling energy for buildings
  6. Empower end-users via smart meters and controls
  7. Make dynamic price signals available for all consumers
  8. Foster business models aggregating micro energy hubs
  9. Build smart and interconnected districts
  10. Building infrastructure to drive further market uptake of electric vehicles.

More information: Report

Tags: energy efficiency, thermal mass

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