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Title: Informed control of domestic energy systems
Author: Boait, Peter John
ISNI:       0000 0004 2676 0438
Awarding Body: De Montfort University
Current Institution: De Montfort University
Date of Award: 2008
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The regulatory and economic pressures from climate change are driving adoption at the domestic scale of low and zero carbon microgenerators such as thermal and photovoltaic solar panels and combined heat and power units. For efficiency household energy use should be co-ordinated with the operation of these devices, but many consumers have difficulty controlling current heating systems so are unlikely to be able to provide the management interventions needed. A control system is required that can collectively optimise a diverse range of energy sources and sinks on behalf of the consumer while providing them with useful information. This system should also respond to the dynamics of grid electricity, for example the variability of output from large scale wind generation, so that embedded microgenerators contribute to the matching of electricity supply and demand. Its realization is the focus of this work. A hypothesis is proposed that ecosystems, which seek and conserve exergy through complexity and diversity of species, offer a model for this control system and the complex range of devices it must manage. To test it, the performance in actual domestic use of several microgenerators is investigated and opportunities for collective optimisation are identified. Minimisation of exergy loss is shown by analysis and computer modelling to be preferable as an objective function when compared to minimisation of carbon emissions or cost, and capable of effective use as a signal for management of electricity demand and despatch of micro generators. To facilitate complexity and diversity, techniques are devised to automatically identify and characterise microgenerators, other appliances, the thermal properties of a home, and consumer energy needs. A prototype control system providing many of these functions is designed, implemented, and tested. It is shown to be capable of improving the energy efficiency of many households, and increased comfort for certain disadvantaged consumers. A conclusion is offered that exergy loss is preferable to market price as a system management metric for all aspects of renewable energy capture, distribution, and use.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available