Energy efficiency as a basis
The greenest kilowatt hour is the one that is never produced. Thus, sufficiency plays a central role in our concepts. Our most important goal is to either completely avoid or to keep the energy demand at a minimum by using intelligently customized planning processes. Strategies and components of climate-friendly construction are continually being further developed and consistently applied.
The energy efficiency and management of energy-optimized buildings is essential. A key aspect is the investigation of newly developed components for facades and building envelopes with regard to their energetic properties and effects on the energy balance of properties. In addition to extensive laboratory tests and simulations, the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance offers tests on test buildings in open land at a scale of 1:1. Furthermore, an optimized operation of buildings has the potential to reduce the spent energy by 30% and thus save huge costs. In many cases, a low investment is sufficient as only the building control system has to be adjusted. An operation optimization, which aims at energy savings and improving comfort, requires practicable tools. Such tools are being developed and tested by the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance. Among other things, these include data processing and visualization, automatic error recognition and diagnosis as well as model-based optimization.
From consumer to prosumer
The concepts of the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance for solar low-energy houses, passive houses as well as zero-energy houses and energy-plus houses combine the passive solar energy use for heat generation, a high structural heat insulation and controlled ventilation processes with high heat recovery through heat exchangers. Also local renewable energy providers are integrated in concepts and scenarios. Especially in old buildings, the energy consumption can be reduced by an energetic renovation. Also, by customized concepts for building refurbishment and the integration in a higher district concept, the transition from consumer to prosumer can be realized. Our services range from concept and technology development and building simulations through to test stands for single components and the intensive monitoring of already installed properties. We analyze and assess the single energy needs of buildings and support customized energy efficiency programs for municipalities, cities and regions.
Heating and cooling of buildings
Experts of the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance investigate sustainable applications for heating and cooling. In addition to solar thermal systems and the combustion of C02-neutral materials, heat pump systems and the cogeneration in cogeneration plants are at the focus of research. The last-mentioned technologies also provide a “grid-interactivity”. For these active applications, operating behavior and efficiency are being determined within detailed field studies and systems simulations. Single components are being further developed in test stands and by means of detailed simulations. The performed standard tests serve as a sound comparison of efficiency.
The focus of our experts lies on the development of concepts for energy efficient and C02-neutral cities and municipalities. On the level of entire settlements, energy concepts are being developed (plus-energy and below) which include the implementation of energy efficiency measures in combination with the integration of renewables for the generation of heat, cold and power. To optimize the energy usage, exergetic principles and the according assessment of energy applications are used.
Our experts at Fraunhofer are also dedicated to aspects of urban climatology, like the prevention of heat islands and the sufficient supply with fresh air and daylight.
Technologies for municipal energy systems
In the business area “Energy in urban context” at Fraunhofer, new technologies for the expansion of electrical supply, local heat and cooling networks are being developed. These range from generation, optimized supply and distribution through to the integration of electrical and thermal storages in municipal energy systems. A key factor is the networked interaction via information and communications technologies (ICT), like the development and testing of Smart Grid and Smart Meter technologies for the usage of demand-side management.