Thermal energy storage in residential buildings: a study of the benefits and impacts
2017-06-23T11:13:10Z (GMT) by
Residential space and water heating accounts for around 13% of the greenhouse gas emissions of the UK. Reducing this is essential for meeting the national emission reduction target of 80% by 2050 from the 1990 baseline. One of the strategies adopted for achieving this is focused around large scale shift towards electrical heating. This could lead to unsustainable disparity between the daily peak and off-peak electricity loads, large seasonal variation in electricity demands, and challenges of matching the short and long term supply with the demands. These challenges could impact the security and resilience of UK electricity supply, and needs to be addressed. Rechargeable Thermal Energy Storage (TES) in residential buildings can help overcome these challenges by enabling Heat Demand Shifts (HDS) to off-peak times, reducing the magnitude of the peak loads, and the difference between the peak and off-peak loads. To be effective a wide scale uptake of TES would be needed. For this to happen, the benefits and impacts of TES both for the demand side and the supply side have to be explored, which could vary considerably given the diverse physical, thermal, operational and occupancy characteristics of the UK housing stock. A greater understanding of the potential consequence of TES in buildings is necessary. Such knowledge could enable appropriate policy development to help drive the uptake of TES or to encourage development of alternative solutions. Through dynamic building simulation in TRNSYS, this work generated predictions of the space and water heating energy and power demands, and indoor temperature characteristics of the UK housing stock. Twelve building archetypes were created consisting of: Detached, semi-detached, mid-terrace and flat built forms with thermal insulation corresponding to the 1990 building regulation, and occupied floor areas of 70m2, 90m2 and 150m2. Typical occupancy and operational conditions were used to create twelve Base Case scenarios, and simulations performed for 60 winter days from 2nd January. HDS of 2, 3 and 4 hours from the grid peak time of 17:00 were simulated with sensible TES system sizes of 0.25m3, 0.5m3 and 0.75m3, and water storage temperatures of 75°C and 95°C. Parametric analysis were performed to determine the impacts and benefits of: thermal insulation equivalent to 1980, 1990 (Base Case), 2002 and 2010 building regulation; locations of Gatwick (Base Case) and Aberdeen; heating durations of 6, 9 (Base Case), 12 and 16 hours per day; thermostat settings of 19°C, 21°C (Base Case) and 23°C, and number of occupiers of 1 person and 3 persons (Base Case) per household. Good correlation was observed between the simulated results and published heat energy consumption data for buildings with similar thermal, physical, occupancy and operational conditions. The results allowed occupied space temperatures and overall daily and grid peak time energy consumption to be predicted for the range of building archetypes and parameter values considered, and the TES size necessary for a desired HDS to be determined. The main conclusions drawn include: The overall daily energy consumption predictions varied from 36.8kWh to 159.7kWh. During the critical grid peak time (17:00 to 21:00) the heat consumption varied from 4.2kWh to 58.7kWh, indicating the range of energy demands which could be shifted to off-peak times. On average, semi-detached, mid-terrace, and flat built forms consumed 7.0%, 13.8% and 22.7% less energy for space heating than the detached built form respectively. Thermal insulation changing from the 1990 building regulation level to the 1980 and 2010 building regulation levels could change the mean energy use by +14.7% and -19.6% respectively. A 0.25m3 TES size with 75°C water storage temperature could enable a 2 hour HDS, shifting 4.3kWh to 11.7kWh (mean 8.7kWh) to off peak times, in all 70m2 Base Case archetypes with the 60 day mean thermal comfort of 100%, but with the minimum space temperature occasionally dropping below an 18°C thermal comfort limit. A 0.5m3 TES size and water storage of 95°C could allow a 3 hour HDS, shifting 9.8kWh to 28.2kWh (mean 18.7kWh) to off peak times, in all 90m2 Base Case archetypes without thermal comfort degradation below 18°C. A 0.75m3 TES with a 95°C water temperature could provide 4 hour HDS, shifting 13.9kWh to 47.7kWh (mean 27.2kWh) to off peak times, in all 150m2 Base Case archetypes with 100% mean thermal comfort but with the 60 day minimum temperature occasionally dropping below the 18°C thermal comfort limit in the detached built form. Improving the thermal insulation of the buildings was found to be the best way to improve the effectiveness of HDS with TES, in terms of the demand shift period achievable with minimal thermal comfort impact. A 4 hour HDS with 100% thermal comfort is possible in all 90m2 floor area buildings with a 0.25m3 tank and a water storage temperature of 75°C provided that the thermal insulation is as per 2010 building regulation. Recommendations for further research include: 1) creating larger number of archetype models to reflect the housing stock; 2) using heat pumps as the heat source so that the mean effect on the grid from electric heating loads can be predicted; 3) taking into account the costs associated with taking up HDS with TES, in terms of capital expenses and space requirement for housing the TES system; 4) considering alternative methods of heat storage such as latent heat storage to enhance the storage capacity per unit volume; and 5) incorporating zonal temperature control, for example, only heating rooms that are occupied during the demand shift period, which could ensure better thermal comfort in the occupied space and extend the demand shift period.