INEGI coordinates project that will use renewable energy for air conditioning in buildings

To address the growing need to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels for heating and cooling buildings, a new project led by INEGI is about to start, whose main objective is to develop and demonstrate a highly integrated solution, powered by solar and biomass energy.

"The transition to renewable energy in the heating and cooling systems of residential and commercial buildings is now an important issue for air conditioning and construction sectors," explains Szabolcs Varga, INEGI’s researcher responsible for the project. "There is, therefore, a greater demand for alternative technologies, which allow a reduction in energy consumption".

Creating a solution with a significant increase in performance over existing technologies, with lower investment and operating costs, is the ambition of project Hybrid - BioVGE. Led by INEGI, this project involves six companies (SOLARFOCUS, Hargassner and ComPLex) and three European academic institutions (Graz University of Technology, University of Bologna and Rapperswiln University of Applied Sciences - HSR).

Szabolcs Varga states that the prototype that the consortium proposes to create "will be driven by heat, originating from two renewable energy resources - solar and biomass energy - and thus it is expected that 95% of the buildings thermal load will be met by renewable energy. The main source will be solar energy and biofuel will come into play at night or in cloudy days”. To this end, the innovation effort will involve the development of a compact unit capable of integrating both systems and guaranteeing efficiency even under different European climatic conditions.

The project will also contemplate creating a design with lower production costs, the development of a targeted thermal energy storage system, as well as an integrated controller to automate the operation. Improved monitoring of real-time energy use and easing the scaling up of operations will also be priorities.

In addition to coordination, INEGI is responsible for the development of several components, including the solar collector, the biomass boiler, the thermal energy storage system with phase change materials, and the intelligent control system. The experimental validation and test of three prototypes in real environments will also be led by specialists of the Institute. The official kick-off meeting of this project, funded by the European program Horizon 2020, takes place on June 27 at INEGIs facilities.

Universidade do Porto
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