Meet VITO:
How can we achieve smart control of heat networks?

PUSH-IT is a consortium of organisations from the energy sector, academic world and public sector. Let us introduce you to our Belgian partner VITO, which focuses on smart control and optimal integration of geothermal storages in heat networks.

How does VITO contribute to PUSH-IT?

In PUSH-IT, the VITO leads the task on the development of smart control algorithms for the optimal integration of the geothermal storages in district heating networks. The combination of long-term seasonal storage in the underground, together with short-term storage in the network and the building’s thermal mass, offers opportunities for improving the cost and energy efficiency of the heat provision to the buildings. How to do this in the most optimal way is part of our task. In this task, we collaborate with TU Darmstadt and Fraunhofer IEG for the modelling of the underground systems, as well as the demo site owners, since after the development of the algorithms, the objective is to test it in the demo sites in Delft, Darmstadt and Bochum.

The first period of the project was used to study the demo sites in detail, to develop tailor-made control algorithms specific for the demo sites. The control objectives were discussed, as well as the characteristics and the boundary conditions of the underground storage systems. Recently, we started with the drafting of the optimal control problems, as a basis for the actual development of the control algorithms.

About VITO

VITO’s mission is to accelerate the transition to a sustainable society. Therefore, as a research centre, we want to focus on the development of sustainable technologies and1 be a reliable and connecting partner of and between companies, knowledge centres and governments. As an independent research centre, we can use our insights and innovations to strengthen the economic and social fabric in Flanders.

In view of the challenges posed by climate change, we put a lot of effort into everything to do with land use. More efficient use of agricultural land will lead to better harvests, less spraying and more profitable cultivation. By better monitoring the water in our watercourses, we can draw conclusions and make forecasts. In this way we can anticipate the negative consequences of a changing climate. We focus on developing solutions that can capture and reuse CO2, reduce the energy demand for chemical processes and answer questions about the processing of plastic waste and residual flows. We also focus on all environmental factors that determine our health. Through large-scale biomonitoring, we help governments to draw conclusions and take measures.

The team

A team of VITO colleagues is involved in PUSH-IT, with expert knowledge in thermal energy systems, as well as algorithms and optimization. Internal project coordination is done by Dirk Vanhoudt. 

Dirk is senior researcher in district heating and cooling networks. Before PUSH-IT, Dirk was involved in numerous research projects on the digitalization of these thermal networks, such as Horizon 2020 STORM and TEMPO.

PUSH-IT is a project funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101096566.
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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