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Use of thermal masses as virtual energy storage


This project exploits the possibility of using thermal masses of residential buildings as a virtual energy storage. By proper manipulation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning, the energy consumption can be shifted from periods of high demand to periods of low demand.


Dr Gregor Verbic.

Research location

Electrical and Information Engineering

Program type



It is widely recognized that energy storage will play a vital role in the transition from the conventional electric power systems to a Smart Grid. The energy storage will be needed to serve as an energy buffer that will enable efficient integration of various inherently intermittent energy sources. All the competing storage technologies are still relatively expensive, which hinder a widespread deployment. The search for the alternatives is therefore obvious. One possible alternative is to use electric vehicles (EVs) that, when parked, present a free-to-use storage option. However, battery cycling is considered a serious issue, as it severely reduces the battery's life time, which, in turn, has severe economic implications for the car owners. As an alternative, this project proposes to use thermal masses of residential buildings as a means of energy storage. Such storage will have minimal running costs. If the comfort level of the occupants is kept at the desired level, exploiting this option will be hardly noticed by the occupants. Almost every household has some appliances that are physically connected to a thermal system. Examples include heating, ventilation and air conditioning, refrigerators, and heat pumps. Therefore, such units can be switched off for certain amount of time without significantly affecting the temperature of the underlying physical system, i.e. without affecting comfort levels of the occupants. The key to a successful realization of this idea is in predicting the behaviour of the underlying physical system.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 1273

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