Load Management in Residential Buildings: Considering Techno-Economical and Environmental Aspects

University dissertation from Division of Energy Economics and Planning, Department of Heat and Power Engineering, Lund University

Abstract: Load problems in electricity markets occur both on the supply and demand side and can have technical, economic and even political causes. Commonly, such problems have been solved by expanding production and/or distribution capacity, importing electricity or by load management. Load management is a techno-economic measure for harmonizing the relations between supply and demand sides, optimizing power generation and transmission and increasing security of supply. Interest in load management differs depending on the perspective of the actors involved: from customer, utility, or producer to state policymaker. The problem of load demand and load management in residential sector is in this thesis approached from different perspectives, i.e. technical, economic, and environmental. The study does not go deep into detailed analyses of each perspective, but rather aims to establish and analyze the links between them. This trans-disciplinary approach is the key methodological moment used in the research work performed by the research group for load management in buildings at the Lund Institute of Technology. The key objective of this study is to analyze load demand variation and load management possibilities in residential sector, particularly detached and semi-detached houses, to experimentally test and analyze the conditions and potential of direct load management from customer and utility viewpoint. Techno-economic and environmental aspects are investigated. The study was performed in collaboration with one electric utility in Southern Sweden. Ten electric-heated houses were equipped with extra meters, enabling hourly load measurements for heating, hot water and total electricity use. Household heating and hot water systems were controlled by the utility using an existing remote reading and monitoring system. The residents noticed some of the control periods, although they didn’t express any larger discomfort. The experiments proved that direct load management might be a possible solution for the utility to solve their peak demand problems. Another solution, considered by the utility and analyzed in this study is a construction of diesel peak power plant. This alternative has negative environmental consequences compared to load management. The analysis of environmental aspects was extended to national level. To include an environmental perspective is a novel approach, since traditionally, load management evaluation is limited the economic and technical viewpoints. It identifies and discusses the possible environmental benefits of load management and evaluates their significance, primary focusing on CO2 emissions reduction. The results show the importance of considering the influence of site-specific or level-specific conditions on the environmental effects of load management. On the national level, load management measures can hardly provide significant environmental benefits, since hydropower is used as the demand following production source in Sweden. Emission reductions will rather be the result of energy efficiency measures, which will cut the load demand as well as the energy demand.