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EU’s aggregated thermal storage trials to begin in Germany, Latvia and Ireland

Ireland's energy minister, Alan White, on a recent visit to Glen Dimplex's innovation and RnD centre. Image: Glen Dimplex.
Glen Dimplex, by some estimates the world’s biggest maker of domestic heating appliances, is due to start recruiting households to participate in the latest phase of an EU trial of energy storage technologies.

The multinational company, which was founded in Ireland, is technology developer along with Intel for the RealValue project, which will see 1,250 thermal storage systems deployed in three EU member states: Ireland, Germany and Latvia. It will assess the whole network benefits of energy storage, including the use of thermal energy storage systems when coordinated by an aggregator.

Around €12 million (US$12.9 million) in funding of a €15.5 million total was provided by the European Commission, set up through the €80 billion EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020. Glen Dimplex will deploy its Smart Electric Thermal Storage systems linked to an app that householders can use to remotely control their heating. Through aggregation, the use of the storage systems to provide Demand Side Management i.e. ramping up or lowering energy use to match supply with demand on the network, will also be trialled, as well as other network services.

Project preparations got underway in June 2015, with an official launch held at Ireland’s national sports stadium, Croke Park in Dublin in December and will last 36 months. As of December, Dimplex had recruited 177 Irish households from 350 surveyed, with a target of 250 total from that country hoped for. Meanwhile in Latvia, a smaller number of households are expected to be recruited with the trial pencilled in to kick off there in September of this year following a recruitment phase between February and April. Deployments in Germany will be conducted in “close cooperation” with the local distribution system operator (DSO) and metering service company, which Dimplex said would enable the collection of meaningful data on “processes in the grid very close to household level”.

In addition to Glen Dimplex and its co-technology developer Intel, the RealValue consortium includes the University of Dublin’s Electricity Research Centre, energy modelling experts from Lativa’s Rigas Technical University, the Germany Institute for Economic Research (DIW), socio-economic experts from the University of Oxford, Finnish technical research centre VTT which specialises in energy markets, Irish electricity network operators EirGrid and ESB Networks. The project will also involve two utility companies, SSE Airtricity – the Irish subsidiary of UK-based SSE – and Germany’s MVV Energie Group.

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