This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 649820
FLEXYNETS is a H2020 European Project coordinated by EURAC, a research institute based in Bozen.
Besides EURAC, the project sees the involvement of other five partners from different European countries: zafh.net (Germany), a research center of the “Hochschule für Technik” of Stuttgart; Solid Automation (Germany), a company specialized in control and monitoring design; PlanEnergi (Denmark), an engineering office specialized in district heating; Soltigua (Italy), a producer of concentrating solar collectors and Acciona (Spain), a large company with dedicated energy departments.
Traditionally, District Heating and Cooling (DHC) networks distribute energy from a centralized generation plant to a number of remote customers. As such, actual DHC systems suffer from:
•Significant heat losses
•Highly unexplored integration potential of different available energy sources (e.g. renewables and waste heat) into the network
•High installation costs.
FLEXYNETS will develop, demonstrate and deploy a new generation of intelligent district heating and cooling networks that reduce energy transportation losses by working at “neutral” (15-20°C) temperature levels. Reversible heat pumps will be used to exchange heat with the DHC network on the demand side, providing the necessary cooling and heating for the buildings. In this way, the same network can provide contemporary heating and cooling.
Moreover, the heat normally rejected by buildings (for example through a common split unit), will be fed into the network by the heat pumps (which are working in “cooling mode”) and recycled by other heat pumps that are producing domestic hot water.
In the same way, these networks allow to recovery and recycle waste heat available along the network path, even at very low temperatures, contrary to traditional District Heating Networks, that can harvest thermal energy only at high temperature (greater than 100°). Following this logic, it is possible to reuse also the waste heat e.g. from supermarkets’ chillers, data centers and several industrial processes.
Working at low temperatures reduces the heat losses to the ground increasing the network efficiency. This system does not substitute -- nor is opposed -- to traditional district heating networks.
In urban contexts not exploiting district heating yet, this new generation networks can represent the main heating and cooling system.
In cities already making use of district heating, low temperature DHC networks can use thermal energy from the return pipes (in addition to waste heat), which otherwise is considered as waste heat by the network utility. This allows them contemporarily to sell additional energy with the same infrastructure and makes the network more efficient, reducing the return temperature to the station.
This project run from 1st July 2015 to 31st December 2018