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Weather forecasts enhance comfort and save energy

The approach of utilizing current weather data such as outdoor temperature and solar radiation for weather-governed automatic controls for heating and cooling systems in building automation is not new and widely used. However, installations in which weather forecasts are also fed to automatic controls are still quite few and far between. This is despite the fact that it can easily be demonstrated that the use of weather forecasts by the control system is beneficial in certain operational instances for energy consumption, energy costs or the indoor environment in certain buildings and installations.

Little meaningful information is available to date regarding the size of these benefits in terms of annual energy consumption, annual energy costs or indoor comfort. However, at the Clima 2007 scientific conference held in Helsinki in June 2007 the view was evident among leading scientists in the field of building services and building automation that greater potential for savings in energy and energy costs was still waiting to be exploited. Some scientists referred to economies of up to 35%.

Recent theoretical and practical successes have vigorously intensified the work on this topic. In addition to the development of automatic control strategies incorporating weather forecasts, the focus is on methods and tools. These should already enable the benefits of solutions of this kind to be assessed during the building automation planning phase, so that they are only used when they offer the customer demonstrable, decisive benefits.

The project OptiControl was launched in March 2007 by the Systems Ecology Group and the Automatic Control Laboratory of ETH Zurich, the building technology laboratory of the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing & Research in Dübendorf (Switzerland), the Swiss Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSwiss) and Siemens Building Technologies as industrial partner. This research project combines the latest developments in building technology, numerical weather forecasting and control engineering in order to improve control of the indoor environment of buildings. Prototypes of products which help to reduce energy consumption with low capital investment and operating costs while guaranteeing a high level of user comfort will be developed and tested.

A cost/benefit analysis has revealed the most promising applications for different types of building, modes of utilization and climates. Based on the results of this analysis, prototypes of several controllers are being developed. A method or tool will also be sought to estimate the impact of predictive controllers on the energy efficiency of buildings already in the planning phase, as well as a method for monitoring the system’s performance during operation.
Type of Seminar:
Public Seminar
Manfred Morari
Automatic Control Laboratory
Sep 10, 2008   9.10 a.m. - 9.50 a.m.

Smart Energy Strategies 2008 Conference, ETH Zurich, Auditorium maximum, main building, Rämistrasse 101
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