In 2016, the federal government committed to the German Climate Action Plan to make most office and residential housing stock climate neutral by 2050. Hundreds of thousands of buildings will need to be renovated and equipped with smart energy systems to make them more efficient and sustainable in the coming years. Researchers at the University of Paderborn are therefore developing a photovoltaic-thermal collector (PVT) system together with seven industrial partners which can simultaneously supply electricity, heat, cooling and fresh air from entirely renewable energy sources.
Eugeny Kenig, chairman of the board of the university’s Center for Sustainable Energy Technology (KET) explains why this project is so important in a : "In our research project, we are developing a combined system that, for the first time, supplies residential and public buildings with energy in its entirety – i.e. simultaneously produces electricity and heat, but also cold and fresh air for heating, cooling and ventilation,” he says.
The central component is the PVT, which can be installed on the rooves and facades of houses. During the day, the system converts solar energy into electricity and heat, and at night it uses environmental cooling, essentially via heat exchange. An integrated heat pump lowers or raises the temperatures inside the building as required, while heat and cold accumulators bridge the gap between energy production and demand. A ventilation system with heat recovery completes the cycle.
The team at KET have set themselves some exacting targets: Firstly, the system must make optimal use of self-generated renewable energy. Secondly, it must cover the building users’ requirements. And finally, its intelligent central control system should make use of innovative storage systems to relieve the strain on supply networks and should use all available data to predict energy requirements, including integrating weather forecasting models
The Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) is funding the project to the tune of EUR 3 million.