Job title: PhD student

Company: HES-SO Valais-Wallis, EPFL

Tell us about your education and working life up to now.

In 2015 I received a Master’s in Environmental Sciences and Engineering with a specialisation in Energy from Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne (EPFL). During this I became interested in questions related to optimisation and the control of energy systems and this is how I started my PhD at EPFL in collaboration with HES-SO Valais within the Sim4Blocks project.

What is your main expertise?

Building simulation, heat pumps and model predictive control.

What is your work focused on in the Sim4Blocks project?

I help develop models and control algorithms for the pilot site of Naters, Switzerland – one of three pilot sites across the EU. I also then test the algorithms at pilot site level.

What are the main challenges you face in this work and how are you meeting these challenges?

The main challenge I have come across is limited time availability, especially when working with “real systems” as everything takes more time than expected due to unforeseen complications. In order to meet these deadlines, I have to make pragmatic decisions and investigate only a limited amount of possible solutions to the problems.
I also find collaborating with so many partners from different horizons very challenging. People depend on your work and your work depends on other people and so I try to communicate with collaborators as efficiently and as much as possible.

How do you see your work helping the project achieve its main objectives?

I am developing and testing algorithms not only on simulations but on real systems, which is an indispensable step in investigating if existing buildings energy system (especially heat pumps) can be controlled to provide flexibility.

What impact do you see Sim4Blocks having in the future?

Sim4Blocks can help identify the bottlenecks that prevent large scale deployment of this solution in Europe. It can also help estimate the cost of such measures.

What does the future hold for demand response?

Demand Response is already an attractive option towards solving the supply-demand problem while providing flexibility to the grid. For me it makes sense to try to adapt the consumption as much as possible to the production. But it should always be done with the objective to reduce the consumption with more efficient buildings or technologies (heat pumps). The big question for me remains as to the cost of this solution compared to alternative solutions (batteries or dams).

“I have two main challenges: limited time availability and collaborating with so many different partners”

What do you enjoy more about working on a project like Sim4Blocks?

I enjoy discovering existing solutions in other fields and trying to apply them in the Sim4Blocks project. I also enjoy meeting partners and sharing experiments and feedback from the pilot site.

How would you like to see your work develop after the project ends?

I would like my work to serve as a base/reference for future projects or in my case for new PhD students in my lab as I didn’t have this chance in my case.

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