Since today, the first version of the SmarThor ICT Platform, developed by EnergyVille, is up and running at Thor Park in Waterschei, Genk. SmarThor is the combination of Smart and Thor and integrates energy generation and –usage, both thermal and electric, of the entire Thor Park into one ICT-platform and is based on Internet of Things Solutions. By means of advanced regulation and control algorithms, the SmarThor ICT Platform balances both demand and supply, and will enable in the future to interchange energy remainders by means of a virtual electricity heat and cold market.
SmarThor ICT Platform
It is important to optimally use our generated energy: energy remnants and heat waste flows should be avoided, or when this is not an option, recuperated as much as possible. A first step in doing so is to measure these energy flows and analyse them to make better use of them.
The SmarThor ICT platform makes us of the latest developments in cloud technology and Internet of Things to gather all relevant data. It not only measures the energy production of solar panels but also the energy use of heat pumps, gas boilers, charging stations, offices and lighting. By means of self-learning techniques the computers look for specific relations between these data and set up automatic and self-learning patterns that take into account weather forecasts and changes in user behaviour. A smart thermostat can for example take into account the expected sunrays that enter through the windows or the outdoor temperature. To optimally use the free warmth of the sun and save energy, the smart thermostat could turn down the heating in advance without losing any of the desired inside temperature or comfort.
SmarThor ICT Platform 2.0
The first version of the SmarThor ICT-platform monitors the energy production and use of EnergyVille I and will be gradually expanded towards IncubaThor and Thor Central. It is expected that EnergyVille II and T2-Campus, which will open in 2018, will join the network, generating a virtual electricity-, heat and cold market at Thor Park.
A second version of the platform is foreseen for the beginning of 2018. This second version will also manage charging stations, heat pumps and gas boilers by means of solar energy forecasts, consequently making sure the electricity demand is adjusted to the availability of sustainably generated energy.
Wim Cardinaels, project coordinator of SmarThor: “Based on the gathered data, the 4th generation heating network, which enables buildings at Thor Park to interchange and store heat and cold, will be further developed. The water in the underground coal tracks of the mine could be an interesting form of storage as well. They can for example store cooling wastes in summer which can be used again during winter to heat the buildings”.
By using Internet of Things technologies, smart systems, regardless their location, can be linked to the Smart Thor ICT Platform. The platform can therefore be further used in future experimental projects which test the impact of new solutions in domestic houses or companies.
The SmarThor project is part of the SALK project 936 “Towards a Sustainable Energy Supply in Cities” which was facilitated thanks to the funding of EFRO, the Flemish Government, the Province of Limburg and the research facilities KU Leuven, VITO, imec and UHasselt in the research collaboration EnergyVille.