Mondragon Unibertsitatea collaborates in the design of a Centralized Energy Module in REnnovates

Mondragon Unibertsitatea is collaborating on the design and deployment of a Centralized Energy Module for a block of dwellings within the REnnovates project. This Energy Module will be later validated in a demonstrator laboratory (block of houses).

REnnovates is a European project co-funded by the European Commission in the H2020 Programme which mission is to contribute to society by reducing the environmental impact of (domestic) energy consumption and maximizing the effective use of renewable energy.

REnnovates is a holistic systemic deep renovation concept using smart services and developing smart energy-based communities resulting in energy-neutral housing – up to and beyond Zero Net Energy – by reducing energy consumption and maximizing the use of renewable energy. The concept outlined in the figure, comprises an insulating envelope (shell), an Energy Module provision with a heat pump and to provide heating and Domestic Hot Water (DHW), solar panels, devices to connect to the grid and IT equipment to connect the Energy Module to the REnnovates Cloud. This Cloud enables monitoring and smart energy control not only per individual house but also at neighbourhood level.

Rennovates Concept

The REnnovates project started September 2015, evaluating the potential of the three demo sides, i.e. the Netherlands, Spain and Poland. The demo in Netherlands is oriented towards the impact of a renovated district on the electric grid, whilst the Polish demo is to analyse the impact on a district heating network. The Spanish demo evaluates the design, construction and implementation of the energy module concept in Spain.

Nine partners from six countries take part in the project; BAM (leader) and Stedin from the Netherlands, VITO, Enervalis and Belfius from Belgium, KEO from Germany, Massive Cell from Finland, Mostostal from Poland and Mondragon Corporation from Spain. Mondragon Unibertsitatea and LKS Ingenieria participate in the project as Mondragon Corporation´s third parties.

The team at Mondragon Unibertsitatea is formed by researchers for the Software Engineering and Web Engineering, the Signal Theory and Communications and the Electric Energy research groups.


The aim for the Spanish demonstrator is to validate business models considering Spanish legislation and to design, construct and integrate an energy module comprising several residential flats. The specific objectives are:

  • Evaluate business models for the REnnovates concept in Spain.
  • Demonstration and design of the Spanish energy module related to integration with both the electric grid and the district heating network.
  • Continuous commissioning demonstration.
  • Analyze and validate the aggregator in the Spanish energy setting.

Business Model / Energy Module

The results for the Spanish Business Model analysis are available here. The business model conditions differ from those of the Netherlands case. While in the Netherlands energy modules manage energy for individual dwellings, in Spain it has been identified that the energy management has to be shared between several flats providing a community own/centralized energy module.

At the moment, the REnnovates Team is working on this new challenge which consists on designing and deploying a Centralized Energy Module for a block of dwellings.

The main task at this stage is to design the technological solution considering not only one dwelling but up to 4 dwellings to be monitored/controlled by a single system.

The new concept opens the door to a number of advantages and opportunities that need to be explored. On one hand sharing a single system among a number of dwellings reduces the cost of the energy module per dwelling as well as decreasing the maintenance services cost. Moreover, a centralized renewable system where solar panels belong to the community would also improve the efficiency of the module since the available surface is large in comparison to individual panels. Consequently, the energy production will be higher providing energy for common facilities, such as illumination, lifts and the centralized energy module itself. In a centralized heating system, the water tank can be used as Thermal Energy Storage. This could increase the profited solar energy amount with a lower investment.

Pilot Demonstrator

In order to validate the suppositions made above further analysis is necessary. The operation of the Spanish energy module will be evaluated in a real scenario. The Centralized Energy Module will be later installed and validated in a demonstrator laboratory (block of houses). Continuous commissioning for the demonstrator will be performed considering the Spanish energy settings (legislation, stakeholders, etc.). The tasks covered at this level are:

  1. Determine the scope for the demonstrator. The demonstrator will be a laboratory that will monitor the behaviour of the centralized energy module. Similar optimizations to those proposed in the Netherlands will be implemented for Domestic Hot Water (DHW) and spatial heating. Only building optimization (Local optimization) will be considered. Auto-consumption of energy produce by solar panels will be promoted.

District and market optimization will not be implemented at this time due to regulation restrictions. Estimations for year round savings will be calculated considering a more advantageous situation (similar to that of the Netherlands).

  1. Adapt the centralised Energy Module to the REnnovates four steps approach for the Spanish demonstrator. That is, select the location more appropriated and chose the interventions to be performed.

The centralized energy module needs to be validated and approved in field tests along with the rest of interventions considered in the REnnovates approach. To do that a demonstrator building is needed. The building has to fulfil the criteria identified during the business plan analysis (block of up to 4 floors, built previously to CT 79, etc.) and also meet the following criteria:

  • Houses fulfilling criteria and available within timeframe of REnnovates project.
  • Retrofitting planned.
  • Resident/owner involvement.
  • Heating system not available or suitable to be changed.

Several locations have been considered as the final location for the demonstrator. A selection process was established considering the above criteria. One location has been selected as the location that meets all of the above mentioned criteria. However, negotiations have not ended yet and the location/building cannot be made public yet.

The main interventions planned at the moment in the building are:

  • Façade: ETICs as a general solution for main parts with ventilated façade in specific areas.
  • Centralized Energy module: Energy module concept will be implemented as a centralized solution for all the apartments.
  • Heating and DHW: Heating (not existent) and domestic hot water installation connected to energy module.
  • PV: Centralized photovoltaic system to be connected to energy module.
  1. Commission and validate the solution according to Spanish legislation.

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