Urban areas to showcase new energy-efficient technology

As of today, cities account for two-thirds of the world’s energy demands and 70 per cent of CO2 emissions. This poses enormous challenges, as well as numerous opportunities.

For example, creating greater synergies between electricity, heating, and cooling can turn buildings into ‘living’ organisms. Unlike their conventional neighbours, these smart buildings use technologies to collect data which in turn help them reduce energy requirements and minimise the overall environmental impact.

Ectogrid

Smart energy technologies are becoming ever more innovative, as is proven by E.ON’s ectogridTM. Like a seesaw, this technology balances thermal energy flows by connecting buildings with their neighbours. ectogridTM uses, reuses and balances the residual thermal energy flow between them, so they can provide both heating and cooling in a particular area. The technology derives its name from so-called ectothermic animals like snakes and lizards, which can repeatedly adjust their temperature up and down to match the surrounding environment.

Projects like ectogridTM have real potential to transform the energy system because they tap into the enormous amount of thermal energy that cities create. The technology connects buildings through a flexible grid that uses heat pumps and cooling machines to distribute thermal energy flows between neighbourhoods, towns or cities. Individual buildings can make energy deposits to the grid – or they can withdraw from it depending on their particular needs at that point. This allows overall energy demands from surrounding buildings to be balanced against one another. A single thermal grid is enough for heating and cooling, making it easily adaptable throughout the seasons.

ectogrid™ works as one giant thermal battery

Ectogrid

ectogridTM is a highly energy-efficient solution because power is only added to the system whenever needed. The technology works as a giant thermal battery – allowing for possible fluctuations in renewable energy supply. If there's a surplus of power or if particular energy demands require prioritisation, then the building's temperature can be raised or lowered.

The ectogridTM technology is currently being rolled out at Medicon Village – a life sciences research and development complex in the Swedish city of Lund. Once fully operational, it will connect 15 commercial and residential buildings, each with different heating and cooling needs. When completed, it will reduce the site’s energy consumption by 78 per cent and its overall energy costs by almost 20 per cent.

E.ON has several additional projects underway for rolling out the technology in the UK and in Germany, aiming to make buildings smarter and helping future cities tap into smart energy sources. And while snakes and lizards may not be to everyone’s taste, it’s clear that our ectothermic reptile friends are holding one of the keys to making our future environmental footprint as small as possible.

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