Intelligent use of solar heat

Trustrup-Lyngby heat and water utility, Denmark

A small utility with big ideas

Trustrup-Lyngby heat utility switched to fixed network reading of their meters as part of an overall plan to optimise operations and implement an intelligent energy system based on data.

When combined heat and water utility, Trustrup-Lyngby, needed new heat meters, they chose to upgrade to fixed network reading to get more frequent data. This data would contribute to operations optimisation, ensure the maximum utilisation of their new solar heating plant and make up the basis for an intelligent energy system for storage and distribution of district heating. With a NetBuild solution from Kamstrup, operations manager, Michael Christensen, could trust that the new network was established efficiently.

From drive-by to network reading
At the end of 2015, the utility made the switch to intelligent and remotely read heat meters, which were read using READy mobile reading just like their water meters. At that time, they made the decision to switch to fixed network reading of both water meters and heat meters in the spring of 2016. They chose Kamstrup’s NetBuild solution to get expert guidance on how to establish their ideal remote reading network.

Optimal network establishment

With NetBuild, the utility carried out the actual network establishment themselves while Kamstrup advised them on where to place antennas and concentrators to ensure the best possible result. This allowed Michael Christensen to be in control of the process and get help when he needed it.

Based on maps of the area and the meter locations, Kamstrup made specific recommendations for the amount and placement of new equipment, to ensure that neither too little nor too much was set up. ”Instead of taking a trial and error approach, Kamstrup’s recommendations gave us a good idea of how to cover our geographical area with as few concentrators as possible,” explains the operations manager. All of the equipment was plug and play and just needed to be installed and powered up to be running.

Some of the antennas are up as high as 30 meters reaching a radius of two to three kilometers. In this way, the utility reaches so far outside the two towns that they pick up many of the readings they would otherwise have to drive around for due to the very scattered metering points in the surrounding rural area not covered by the network. This was an unexpected advantage.

The network solution and all data are hosted by Kamstrup, which is a great advantage to Michael Christensen: ”There is no hassle and nothing I need to worry about – everything is under control.”

”All the knowledge we get from the many metering points make up our basis for optimising the distribution network, our production and the entire system here at the utility.”

- Michael Christensen, operations manager.

Huge potential in frequent data

The fixed network sends home data to the utility on an hourly basis because this provides the most value for the rest of the system. As a result, the operations manager’s job has gone from collecting data for billing to getting as much as possible out of the data they receive: ”All the knowledge we get from the many metering points make up our basis for optimising the distribution network, our production and the entire system here at the utility.”

Frequent data make it easier to target trouble shooting in relation to e.g. a leak in a customer’s floor heating system, which can be hard to find. Previously, Michael Christensen used the process of elimination by going around the streets shutting off valves to locate the problem.
Today, the simple outline in the PC program, READy Manager, gives him the overview he needs to quickly react to leaks and other irregularities. He describes it as a detailed to-do list. ”Now we can sit in front of the computer and see which info codes are listed and if there’s anything we need to address. We have a full overview at all times.” 

In addition, the utility is now also able to target customer guidance and visits: ”We are able to contact our customers and tell them exactly what the problem is and how it can be fixed.”

”Now we can sit in front of the computer and see which info codes are listed and if there’s anything we need to address. We have a full overview at all times.”

- Michael Christensen, operations manager.

Intelligent solar heat

Smart heat metering is the basis for an overall plan for maximum utilisation of the utility’s new solar heating plant, which will also benefit the end users.

The solar heating plant will cover more than 30% of the annual production and is expected to result in a 30% reduction of the price of heat, which will be reduced by approx. DKK 5,000 a year for a standard house. During winter, production of district heating will still be covered by the utility’s wood chip boiler but with solar heat they save would chip resources and extend the lifetime of the wood chip boiler system because it can be shut down for four months every summer.

Intelligent meters enable the utility to rethink production, consumption and billing, e.g. with regards to cooling during periods where they have more solar heat than they can use, which would therefore be wasted.

Michael Christensen explains that by increasing the pipeline losses instead, excess heat goes directly into the end users’ heating installations. ”Combined with weather prognoses we would be able to say that during a certain period, heat would theoretically be free. People could then fill up their paddling pools with hot water rather than waiting for the sun to warm it up. That would be a great service.”

Data-based integration
In other words, the purpose of smart heat metering via the utility’s new network is to make the entire chain more efficient and frequent data are the foundation for the integration of the utility’s whole heating system.

”In a perfect world, everything is connected and everything – from production to consumption and billing of heat – is done with a purpose to the get the ideal conditions for both the utility and the end user. That’s the idea behind all of this,” explains Michael Christensen and elaborates: ”We see an enormous potential in linking the production of heat to our consumer billing system, so that we always have people’s consumption in the system. This is only possible because of the updated data we continuously receive from the meters.”

Expected payback time for the entire project is seven years.

About the project:

Heat meters: 498 MULTICAL® 402
Water meters: 690 MULTICAL® 21