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News: Carbon savings – it’s all about the timing

For many years now, the main aim of government energy policy in the built environment has been to drive down demand; a simple strategy for cutting carbon that continues to make good sense, although with increasing wind and solar power supplying the UK, things are no longer quite so straightforward. 

Thermal Mass and Design-Side Response (DSR) 

Using thermal mass to shift energy demand and help balance the electricity supply grid.  

Thermal mass now has a further application, which is to help shift the heating and cooling energy demand of buildings in response to the peaks and troughs of the renewable energy that increasingly feeds the grid. 

The heat storage provided by thermal mass can be used in combination with Demand-Side Response (DSR) to control a building’s space heating or cooling so that grid supplied power is used in a more carbon-efficient way. DSR is sensitive to the changing carbon intensity of the grid and helps reduce stress on the network at times of peak use when there is a shortfall in renewable power and carbon intensity is high. Demand-side technology also enables consumers to take advantage of cheaper electricity using half-hourly energy pricing, helping cut fuel bills. 

The emergence of a ‘smart grid’ and the increasing electrification of heating/cooling systems means concrete and masonry buildings with their thermal mass, could play a significant role in demand-side flexibility. According to renewable energy consultant 3E, buildings with high thermal mass can help maximise the use of renewables and shift peak electricity demand by up to 50%. 

More information can be sourced from the document: Structural Thermal Energy Storage in Heavy-Weight Buildings, published by 3E. 

Concrete Futures magazine

Peak Performer

Transitioning the UK to renewable energy means being smarter about managing peaks and troughs. By Tom De Saulles