Smart system integration and optimization

This theme aims at integrating and optimizing solar energy systems in green distributed energy systems. These solar energy systems can be embedded in both grid-connected infrastructures and off-grid energy grids (residential, community-based, industrial). An excellent performance, high reliability and long durability at feasible costs will each be prevailing criteria for full, long term integration of solar energy systems in existing or new infrastructures.  Next to photovoltaics (PV), solar thermal conversions and solar fuel generation components, these systems are also comprised of other energy components for both electricity, heat, and fuel supply, such as innovative solutions for short-term to seasonal storage of energy, and smart energy management systems that optimize performance and flexibility of solar energy systems in combination with end-user demand, electric vehicles and heat pumps.

Smart system integration of solar energy focusses on harvesting, storing, transporting and optimally using this form of highly intermittent renewable energy. To this end, systems must be agile to respond promptly to ever-changing environments (e.g. weather, end-users, shading by neighboring objects, variable energy prices etc.) by using real-time information, forecasts of at-surface solar radiation in four dimensions, process models, and big data analysis in order to maintain energy balance and to economically optimize the production, transportation and use of solar energy within the broader context of the energy sector and the internet of things in which negotiations with other smart devices optimize the use of renewable energy at high efficiencies.

Different environments and applications such as for instance the infrastructural context, built environment and automotive applications will blend in future solar systems, asking for generic approaches to energy balance assessments, financial evaluations, environmental impact assessments and system optimization with and without storage, energy management, end-user behavior and additional energy components.

To measure is to know, therefore in order to evaluate performance, reliability and durability and to enable the integration, management and optimization of the functioning of solar energy systems, monitoring of weather and energy variables will be essential. For large volumes of solar energy systems, these research and operational tasks require also access to accurate big data at short time scales (ranging from seconds to 15-minutes), as well as related big data storage facilities, processing methods and analytics software.

Since smart solar systems will arise on a wide variety of geographic locations and under several conditions including, but not limited to, climate, financial circumstances, and cultural contexts, long term measurements and system monitoring will be key, including data analysis and system simulations, to be able to compare and hence improve the overall smart energy system, to improve designs of solar energy systems, and perform maintenance in time.

For more information, please contact Jurriaan Schmitz or Christiaan van der Tol.