ehub – the Energy Hub Demonstrator
ehub is an energy research and technology transfer platform aimed at optimizing energy management at district level and evaluating its influence on the overall energy system. In conjunction with the other Empa demonstrators NEST and move, ehub can be used to combine energy flows in the mobility, housing and work sector, test new energy concepts under real-world conditions and explore the potential for increasing efficiency.
The seamless integration of renewable energy sources, efficient storage possibilities and a dynamic interplay between a wide range of technologies is pivotal for a sustainable energy future. ehub, Empa’s Energy Hub demonstrator, displays a large number of technologies for the production, conversion, transportation and storage of energy. NEST provides a kind of vertical neighborhood for research on new energy concepts for networks of buildings. And combining eHub with move, Empa's demonstrator for future mobility, enables renewable electricity to be extended to mobility, where it can be used as fuel or stored in the form of hydrogen.
ehub comprises a wide variety of components, three thermal networks, three electrical networks and two gas networks. All components can be controlled individually and – depending on the research question at hand – operated separately or in concert. This enables individual technologies to be used, analyzed and improved in ehub. The results on the practical capability and systematic combination of individual technologies will help our partners from the energy sector and from industry to make decisions on future investments and can provide useful recommendations for planners, architects, energy suppliers and authorities. The practical implementation of energy models paves the way for research on the impact of these models on Switzerland’s energy system.
Issues Addressed in ehub
Decentralizing the energy system gives rise to completely new issues, such as:
- How can buildings – as energy consumers as well as generators with their various forms of energy (heat, electricity and gas) – be coupled usefully with the energy demand in mobility?
- What is the importance of new technologies in the local energy system – such as fuel cells, combined heat and power units, new kinds of heat pumps and heat and electricity storage or hydrogen technologies?
- How does a decentralized energy system affect the overall system?
- Where are the economic and ecological limits?
- What level of energy autonomy is possible, which one is useful?
- What exactly is the optimum balance between central and decentral storage systems?
Expansion by Collaborating with the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and other Research Partners
ehub won’t just connect NEST and move, the two demonstrators on the Empa campus in Dübendorf; it will also be linked up to PSI’s Energy System Integration Platform (ESI). This broad collaboration raises energy research to a new level and allows research to be conducted on energy networks that aren’t physically coupled. Moreover, pooling the various skills and technologies enables a holistic view of the energy systems.