German solar inverter manufacturer, SMA Solar Technology; German HVAC company, Vaillant; and RWTH Aachen University in Germany are conducting a joint research project to find out how best to intelligently couple PV systems with CHP plants and heat pump heating systems. The goal of the PV-KWK project is to develop optimized system solutions that create the most effective combination of PV and CHP plant/heat pump systems for multiple applications in buildings. Through the project, the companies also hope to optimize load control for electrical appliances and the use of energy storage in solar systems.
The project, which runs until November 2017 and has a budget of nearly $7 million, is being coordinated by SMA. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is promoting the collaborative project with $3.73 million as part of its Research and Development for Photovoltaics funding initiative.
The intelligent connection makes it possible for the heat pumps and CHP plants installed primarily to supply heat to the building to, for example, also take on additional tasks to compensate for the fluctuating power supply from PVs. Conversely, the solar system’s load control and, if necessary, its storage, can equalize the operation of the heating components while taking into account the user’s comfort requirements. Combined systems of this kind can be operated for the purpose of individual increased self-consumption, for grid relief, in accordance with energy industry optimization criteria, as a “pooled virtual power plant,” or as a combination of these different approaches.
As part of this research project, SMA will expand and optimize its energy management solutions as well as draft open interface standards in collaboration with its partners. Field testing will take place in single- and multi-family dwellings or in commercial buildings.