Competence and challenges
Research on electric power system technology includes distribution and transmission networks. District heating with combined heat and power production forms another important competence area of VTT Energy Systems. Energy efficiency and clean energy have an important role in current research programs. New materials and technologies are constant challenges in energy infrastructure.
Electricity, district heating and gas networks
Networks for electricity, heating and gases form a basis for energy infrastructure. We are studying technologies that will enable the implementation of “Smart Grid” concepts in an environmentally and socially acceptable way. Smart power systems and their ICT solutions for control and protection have been widely studied in VTT. Asset management, supply security, and the maintenance and security of infrastructures are important topics. New-generation district heating networks and the integration of heating and cooling systems are being studied using optimisation models. A polygeneration concept enables the production of heating, cooling, chemicals, process steam or desalinated water alongside electricity generation. Energy storages integrated into energy networks increase the chances of optimising energy use.
Distributed energy resources
VTT has participated in a large number of projects related to distributed energy resources, including co-operation in Nordic, European and IEA projects. Changes in the legislation and financial support system are enabling an increasing use of distributed systems. Small-scale combined heat and power production consists of micro turbines, fuel cells or local plants. Combined production provides high overall efficiency. Several competence areas at VTT have studied distributed energy resources, including wind energy, solar cells, biofuels and energy storage, as well as the utilization of flexible loads and simulation of the system. VTT has the research infrastructure for testing DER equipment. The system consists of a low-voltage laboratory network with generating and loading units.
Energy use and energy efficiency
Energy efficiency analyses have been performed at the component level as well as in buildings, processes, regions or whole countries. An energy audit project in a developing country is one example of our research in this area. Power quality requirements and the reliability of power systems will have increasing importance. Demand response combined with smart metering and peak shaving enables an increase in overall efficiency in energy use. A common measuring system for electricity, heating and water consumption has been adopted, for instance in building automation.
Europe must move to a sustainable and reliable energy generation mix. This is driving change in the ways energy networks are designed and operated. Our research on solutions for increasing energy efficiency, the security of energy transfer, new concepts for energy production and the maintenance of existing systems benefit this target.