During European Sustainable Energy Week 2017 (EUSEW), Energea, partners of Sim4Blocks, took part in a conference in Barcelona and presented on the ‘Flexibility of demand in office buildings and housing’, discussing the main objectives of the project as well as Spanish legislation that has restricted the green building sector.

The Palau Robert was a spectacular backdrop for the Catalan Energy Institute’s event on the energy transitions in buildings. Presentations focused on topics including: the introduction of Nearly Zero-Energy Buildings (NZEBs) in Spain; a new optimisation program for energy rehabilitation; low consumption districts for Smart Cities; and energy efficiency in public buildings.

Laura Garcia, director of projects at Energea – an engineering company that works as an energy service company (ESCO) for energy users, and researches and develops products in the renewable energies sector – presented the companies work. They have approximately 1000 tenant users, and manage around 45 customers and central heating plans at the pilot site PROMUSA in St Cugat, Spain, one out of the three Sim4Blocks demo sites. They are working to implement measures that increase the use of clean and efficient energy installations within the buildings of the pilot sites.

Tenants at PROMUSA are using a thermal energy system consisting of hot water, heating and cooling elements through active demand management, which uses energy in accordance to low and peak hours of consumption. By establishing a demand aggregator – which configures and manages the demand of consumers – marketers such as Energea can offer flexible tariff packages and offer computer or WhatsApp messaging services to inform users when thermal energy is at its cheapest. By making the user more aware of how and why they use their energy, the project aims to generate some behavioural changes in the user in order to manage demand response.

Legislation has been a highly restrictive influencer in the past for the green building sector in Spain, and is one that directly affects the work of Energea as an ESCO that sells energy to its users. Spanish legislation currently prohibits the resale of electrical energy when the holder of the supply is not the final consumer. ESCO’s, therefore, cannot incorporate electrical energy services as they do with thermal energy services to all of its users. There have recently been progressive implementations that look to change legislation to allow thermal and electrical integration to be sent from an ESCO. This change in legislation would significantly favour the integration of renewable energy into small consumptions grids.

The presentation concluded by highlighting incentives to make thermal management systems an economic influencer for tenants, and the assimilation of thermal and electrical uses. Energea received a positive reception and have been invited to present their model again in November, when the hope is that legislation would have started to show gradual changes in addressing certain key actions for achieving energy saving goals in buildings.