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Just over a year has passed since its inauguration, and already the Hager Group research and application centre has virtually disconnected from the electricity grid. Designed to function as a sort of green power plant, the smart office building at the company's headquarters in Blieskastel constantly analyses and optimises its energy consumption in an intelligent way. Since the systems were first introduced, they have proved so effective that this building covering an area of 3,000 square metres generates far more energy than it consumes. "The building is a power plant that generates 1.7 million kilowatt hours of energy a year, and we can feed up to 1.1 million kWh of this energy into the plant's independent grid system," says Andreas Frevel, Solutions Support Manager at Hager Group. In other words, not only does the smart research centre supply its own electricity, but it also contributes to the energy supply for its neighbouring buildings.
The self-sufficient effect is made possible thanks to a smart energy management system with around 5,000 data points in the building. The system was designed in cooperation with the company's industry partners IS Predict, Oelma, Sauter and Lonsdorfer. By collecting vast amounts of data about users' consumption behaviour or up-to-date weather forecasts, the software solution is able to use this information to prepare accurate forecasts of the expected energy consumption levels. On the roof of the building, solar panels produce electricity from the power of the sun, while a highly efficient combined heat and power plant converts gas into heat and electricity in the adjacent building. Depending on requirements, the energy generated is either stored in a 112.5 kWh buffer tank or used immediately – for example, to charge the factory's own electric vehicles.
Self-learning and foresighted, the building develops strategies to ensure its own energy is generated and stored in a more efficient way. The project has already been praised for its concept by the nationwide initiative "Germany – Land of Ideas", which awarded it the prestigious title of "Excellent place in the land of ideas". Just over a year has passed, and the results now show that ideas like this are not only beneficial to the environment, but they also pay off in terms of cost-effectiveness. "The system has allowed us to save almost 130,000 euros in energy costs and 550 tons of carbon dioxide over the past year," says project manager Frevel. And at the same time, it is also providing Hager Group with a reliable source of supply. When a glitch in the pipelines led to a failure in the energy supply in the region a few months back, the research and application centre was probably the only larger building in Bliesgau that was able to get its systems back up and running after a short interruption to services.
Incidentally, home-owners can also benefit from this solution: with its Energy Management and Storage System (EMSS), Hager Group has recently released a smaller system that private households can use to manage their energy consumption and save self-generated energy – in exactly the same way as the example set by the Hager Group research and application centre.