Small-Scale Energy Storage to deliver ‘RealValue’ in Ireland

John Young, Senior Engineer, EirGrid; Muiris Flynn, Chief Technology Officer, Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation Ireland; Donal Finn, Associate Professor, University College Dublin; Jonathan Sandham, Smart Networks Manager, ESB Networks; Rowena McCappin, Project Director, Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation; David Boundy, Director of IOT Innovation, Intel; Neil Stewart, CEO, Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation; Jonathan O’Sullivan, Manager Innovation, EirGrid; David Noronha, Strategy Programme Manager, SSE Airtricity; and Gerard Finneran, Project Engineer – Smart Grid Technologies, Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation Ireland.

For Ireland to meet its renewable energy obligations of sourcing 16% of final energy use (all sectors) from renewables by 2020, leading companies in the energy sector in Ireland believe that unlocking the potential of residential small-scale energy storage will have a major impact.

Companies including Glen Dimplex, EirGrid, ESB Networks, SSE Airtricity and Intel understand the potential for domestic demand-side management (DDSM) solutions – which will inform behavioural change in consumers and have a major impact on energy models of the future.

The €15.5M Horizon 2020 project (€12M EC funding) – RealValue – has just revealed its findings following one of the largest and most diverse pilot studies involving ‘real’ participants within the BRIDGE Horizon 2020 Smart Grid and Energy Storage projects. Driven by a consortium of 13 partner organisations from across Europe, led by Glen Dimplex, and including EirGrid, SSE Airtricity, ESB Networks, Intel and the Electricity Research Centre at UCD, RealValue installed smart electric thermal storage systems (SETS) in around 550 properties in Ireland. It has shown that this technology has the potential to transform how consumers use and store energy, in the form of heat, in their homes.

“Having the entire electricity value chain involved in RealValue was of the utmost importance and facilitated a 360-degree overview of the potential for smart electric thermal storage,” comments RealValue Project Director, Rowena McCappin.

Mark O’Malley, Full Professor of Electrical Engineering UCD (on sabbatical) and Chief Scientist, Energy Systems Integration, NREL, USA, explains: “The modelling completed for the RealValue project is indicative of the future potential for SETS, both at a building level and, when aggregated, at the power system level. Through smart scheduling of the devices, valuable services can be provided to the grid while maintaining the thermal comfort of the end-users. This can lead to lower system operating costs and lower variable renewable energy curtailment, particularly for scenarios where fuel prices and/or penetrations of variable renewable generation are high. Competing technologies and/or sources of flexibility have a large impact on the potential value of SETS. Compared to direct resistance heating, SETS demonstrate a significant capacity value – i.e. the reduction in system peak demands mean that lower conventional plant capacities are required to maintain system reliability.”

In terms of industry, huge investment will be required to deliver new energy business models for the future. However, several players in the energy market are already making inroads in developing innovative solutions that will help to deliver small scale energy storage.

David Noronha, Strategy Programme Manager for SSE Airtricity, said: “As a leading generator and supplier of green energy, SSE Airtricity is committed to developing new and innovative ways to unlock the potential of renewables in Ireland. If we are going to transition to a smarter, greener system, the customer simply must be at the heart of everything we do, and that’s what the RealValue project was all about. By empowering customers, increasing the penetration of renewables, and reducing costs, we believe these exciting technologies can bring significant benefits for all market participants, as well as our environment.”

Jonathan O’Sullivan, Manager Innovation for EirGrid, adds: “As the system operator, we believe there is significant potential for residential small-scale energy storage to take part in the energy market and contribute to the system, for the benefit of all.”
Jonathan Sandham, Smart Networks Manager, ESB Networks, comments: “The National Smart Metering Programme in Ireland involves the roll out of 2.3million meters across the country from 2019 and will help consumers further manage their energy usage. RealValue has allowed ESB Networks to gain experience to appreciate an architecture to allow the optimal amount of customer flexibility and aggregated services on the distribution system in a fair, open and safe way. It has been instrumental in the development and appreciation of future technologies and services required by a DSO.”

Commenting on how these findings can help with business development, Neil Stewart, CEO of Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation, comments: “Through our Quantum System, which launched in 2012, we have continually invested in ‘demand side management’, growing the low carbon technology side of our business. RealValue has illustrated that there’s huge potential in small-scale energy storage, and our involvement in BRIDGE has paved the way for future collaborations with partners. By working together with utility and technology companies, we hope to further investigate new business models, helping to shape the energy landscape of the future.”

The ability to combine smart metering with renewable technologies will be a huge step in helping Ireland to become a more sustainable nation that uses its natural resources to fuel greener homes and communities.

Small-scale energy storage has the potential to make huge strides in micro-generation and energy storage for homes and businesses, however the entire electricity value chain must come together to make this vision a reality.

The RealValue consortium is a unique collaboration between public, private and academic institutions. Its members are: beegy, EirGrid, The Environmental Change Institute (University of Oxford), ESB Networks, The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), Glen Dimplex Heating and Ventilation Ireland, Glen Dimplex Deutschland, Intel, MVV, Riga Technical University, SSE Airtricity, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and University College Dublin.

For further information on RealValue, please visit