In general terms, the Hybrid-BioVGE technology has the potential for a remarkable impact on the decentralised building energy practice. Boosting the deployment of renewable energy systems to the space heating and cooling market is now an important issue, affecting decision making in the building sector. The technology developed under this project complies with future requirements in this area. The proposed system will be welcomed by engineering firms, building construction and building services industry, who seek a sustainable and cost-effective approach to indoor heating and cooling. It will be also welcomed by the end user because of the corresponding reduced operating costs. In the EU, a few hundreds of thousands of new homes are built each year and as such the total market potential is unquestionable. Any share in the use of the Hybrid-BioVGE technology will lead to a dramatic reduction in energy consumption for heating and cooling, traditionally supplied by gas boilers and conventional air-conditioners. Successful conclusion of the project could lead to the creation of new job opportunities within the EU and other countries.

The activities described in this proposal will directly contribute to the technology developments foreseen in the call “LC-SC3-RES-5-2018: Increased performance of technologies for local heating and cooling solutions” in terms of its technical context. The Hybrid-BioVGE project, to be developed within H2020/Building a Low-Carbon, Climate Resilient Future focus area, will make available a new affordable renewable energy space heating and cooling system by the hybridisation of solar and biomass resources, enabling the efficient integration of unconventional technologies, such as variable geometry ejector chiller and phase change material thermal energy storage, with more conventional ones, including solar thermal collectors and biomass boilers. It will also make available automated control, monitoring and simulation/design tools. The proposed work programme is specifically designed to meet all the relevant expected impacts required in the call. There are also other relevant side-impacts, such as environmental, innovation and social.

The expected impacts required in the call are “a significant performance increase, in the order of 10-20%, in terms of available heat/cold or to a reduction in the investment and operation costs or to a combination of both aspects, reducing the dependence on fossil energy for heat and cooling in buildings”. The proposed project will generate these impacts as described below:

Significant performance increase, in the order of 10-20% of available heat/cold

The proposed project will increase cooling cycle performance, overall system performance and solar fraction compared to existing solutions. This will lead to an improved yearly energy usage by 20 percent. Fixed geometry ejector cooling cycles operate with COP about 0.2-0.3 under design conditions, and considerably poorer under variable operating conditions. Users reported that solar driven absorption chiller operate with lower COPs than the manufacturer’s specification [21]. The variable geometry ejector cycle will help to overcome these problems by increasing cooling cycle COP up to 0.5, and by producing cooling at lower generator temperatures (variable, off- design operating conditions). Solar fraction will be improved by intelligent control with weather forecast features and compact PCM thermal energy storage. During the cooling season it is expected to be as high as 90%. For the heating season, in sunny locations, the solar fraction for heating will be higher than 60%, while in typical central European climate, higher than 40%. Energy performance will also be considerably increased by the development of an integrated solution. The automatic fault detection features of the control system will reduce shutdown periods and maintenance time.

Significant decrease of the investment and operation cost

About 50% of the capital cost in solar cooling/heating installations are given by the cost of the chiller and the solar collector field. Saving on these two particular components will have a direct impact on the capital cost of the Hybrid- BioVGE system. In combination with the innovative use of nano-particles in heat pipes and reducing mounting and connections costs will lead to saving of the collector cost by 20%. The use of the ejector cooling cycle, instead of an absorption chiller will also generate a saving of about 50% in this component. High level of system integration and increased compactness e.g. for the thermal energy storage will also contribute to investment cost reduction of about 15%. It is expected to total investment cost will reduce by about 20-30% when compared to a similar capacity solar driven absorption chiller (3.5€/Wcold, 1€/Wheat).

Operating costs will be considerably lower than existing air-conditioning systems. It is expected that operational cost will remain below 0.04 euros/kWh for cooling and 0.01 euros/ kWh heating with the Hybrid-BioVGE system when running on solar energy. With high solar fraction this will have a high impact on the annual savings. It is also expected that the biomass boiler will use local low-cost resources, therefore operating cost can be further reduced. Further reduction in the operating expenses will be provided by system increased compactness (reduced hydraulic losses); improved year-round solar energy utilization by integration (e.g. heating/cooling, DHW, pool heating); expanded life time; and improved control unit.

Reduction of the dependence on fossil energy for heating and cooling in buildings

It is expected that 95% of the energy needed to run the Hybrid-BioVGE system will supplied by renewable sources (solar radiation and biomass), therefore the deployment of the proposed technology will significantly contribute to the dependence of fossil fuels for thermal control of buildings.