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Press Release -- February 12th, 2021
Source: Ericsson

Technology&: Exploring sustainable energy solutions

As part of our Technology& video series, we continue to explore how technology can create a smarter and more sustainable society. In this segment, we highlight E.ON’s ectogrid solution, where buildings can share with each other, greatly reducing their energy use.  Watch the full episode here.

Ectogrid greatly reducing energy use

Host: I’m at Medicon Village in Lund. Below me is a system called “ectogrid,” which handles heat and cold in a much smarter way than we’re used to. Could this be one of the keys to a sustainable society?

Jakob Skogsström, IP Manager, E.ON ecotgrid:

When we began talks with Medicon Village, they were using approximately 10 GWh of heating and 4 GWh of cooling per year.

The idea is that after we’ve expanded in the final step, they’ll use 3 GWh of electricity instead, which will operate heat pumps and cooling units.

The remaining energy is then circulated through the system. This means approximately 70-80% less energy supplied to this area of 15 buildings.

Marcus Törnqvist, IoT Product Manager, Ericsson:

The exchange between the distributed heating and cooling systems that ectogrid utilizes…balancing that with smart grids, is a really good thing.

Without digitalization we won’t be able to implement unlimited renewable energy. It would be the “Wild West” in the electricity system, because the wind will blow and the sun will shine at times when there aren’t any consumers. We have to balance it using digitalization.

Host: Imagine an area with a grocery store in need of cooling, and an office building in need of heating. Today, such systems are built separately. The grocery store has its own cooling system and the office building has its own heating system. That means a lot of energy goes to waste.

The systems discharge the excess heat or cold directly into the air. Ectogrid does this in a much smarter way. Instead of wasting it, it’s possible to store and share the heat and cold. The grocery store’s system is connected to the office building’s, so that the excess heat is used instead.

A large number of properties can be connected, which saves lots of energy and is significantly better for the environment.

Host: How does this system contribute to a sustainable society?

Jakob Skogsström, E.ON ecotgrid:

We have the ability to allow our customers to use existing energy. Then we can look at other users. After all our internal needs have been offset, we go to the accumulator tank. If it’s empty, we have to fill it with energy. We always try to use available energy before looking elsewhere for energy.

It’s extremely sustainable.

Marcus Törnqvist, Ericsson:

We have more wind and sun. That means energy production is better distributed.It’s closer to consumers and where it’s consumed. In practice, that means we need smaller electrical grids than we have today. But it needs to look different than it does today.

If you have a more well-distributed grid, that means different parts of the grid need to be more autonomous. That is, independently intelligent and able to adapt the local supply, the local need.

There’s also discussion about participating in local markets. In order to manage it and use the electrical grid infrastructure in an effective manner, it has to be digitalized. That is, you use the resources as effectively as possible.

Jakob Skogsström, E.ON ecotgrid:

The big news right now is digital. We’ve created a system called “ectocloud,” which is a control system for ectogrid.´It keeps us constantly informed.

We have an array of sensors in the area, which constantly report how warm it is in the pipes, the external temperature. It allows us to set and schedule how the system should run, which systems should run and when, and that’s the big benefit.

Host: 5G is on the way. How important is it to be connected?

Jakob Skogsström, E.ON ecotgrid:

It’s extremely important. It means that we can put sensors in places which today are very difficult to reach with cabling, etc. It’s fundamental to the process.

Host: As a consumer of electricity, how will this technological progress affect me?

Marcus Törnqvist, Ericsson:

I don’t think we’ll need to actively think about it. You make some intentional decisions which will have a positive impact on the future. Electricity will be more accessible than it is today.  That will allow us to have easier, simpler lives in the future.

Host: Today, we waste a lot of energy. This accumulator tank is an important part of ectogrid. Heat and cold are stored here, and can be used instead of being wasted. These are exactly the kind of solutions we need to move to a sustainable society.

Read more about envioronmental sustainability at Ericsson here

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