Demand response in blocks of buildings

The DR-BOB project is investigating the flexibility that blocks of buildings can offer to the grid.
Published: Wed 22 Nov 2017

Within the European Union approximately 40% of the energy consumption and 40% of the carbon emissions is from buildings. Thus, they offer considerable potential for energy efficiency but also for demand response – especially when the buildings can be aggregated in blocks.

The concept of aggregating storage to grid scale in fleets of buildings has been pioneered for Southern California Edison in the United States. But in general, a lack of suitable commercial products and technologies is limiting the potential flexibility that blocks of buildings can offer, over and above that of individual buildings, when aiming to optimise the mix of energy consumption, local generation and storage.

Energy management

To meet this challenge and to demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits, the DR-BOB (Demand Response in Blocks of Buildings) project is being run in Europe with Horizon 2020 support.

The three-year project, which kicked off in March 2016, has at its centre an intelligent demand response energy management solution – ‘Dr Bob’ – that can be optimised to either maximise economic profit or to minimise CO2 emissions according to user requirements. 

Demonstration is taking place in a range of building types, including academic institutions in the UK and Romania, training and research centres in France and a hospital in Italy.

Interim results

 In a presentation (embedded below), Michael Short, Reader in Control Engineering at Teesside University, presents an overview of the solution architecture and its onsite implementation at the project’s lead institution.


Michael Short of Teesside University presents an overview of the DR-BOB project.

He explains that the three main components are an energy management platform from Siemens, a market emulator which generates demand response events and a local energy manager at each of the pilot sites.

 Multiple demonstration scenarios have been developed, with those for the UK pilot including short term operating reserve and frequency control by demand management.

 “The innovation aspect comes in where we extend the state of the art with these more advanced demand response strategies,” Short says.

 As an example of the implementation of the latter strategy, he mentions a demonstration in which the power demanded by a heat pump in a test-room could be modulated to track and respond to grid frequency variations in real time.

 “This provides a powerful addition to the area of demand response.”

 As the project approaches the half-way point, implementation of the solution architecture at each of the demos sites has started and the UK site is now functional, Short says.

 “Preliminary results have shown that even the more advanced concepts can be implemented in practice and so we hope the project will make an impact on the practical implementation of demand response,” he concludes.

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