Micro-cogeneration offers numerous potential advantages for the supply of energy to residential buildings in the sense of improved energy efficiency and reduced environmental burdens. To realize these benefits, however, such systems must reduce energy costs, primary energy consumption, and CO2 emissions relative to conventional heating systems. In this paper, we search for optimized strategies for the integration of a Stirling engine-based micro-cogeneration system in residential buildings by comparing the performance of various system configurations and operational strategies with that of a reference system, i.e. hydronic heating and a low temperature gas boiler in standard and passive house constructions located in different climates. The IDA-ICE whole-building simulation program is employed with the Stirling engine micro-cogeneration model that was developed by IEA/ECBCS Annex 42. In this way the dynamic effects of micro-cogeneration devices, such as warm-ups and shutdowns, are accounted for. This study contributes to the research by addressing hourly changes in the fuel mix used for central electricity generation and the utilization of thermal exhaust through heat recovery. Our results suggest that an optimally operated micro-cogeneration system encompassing heat recovery and appropriate thermal storage would result in a 3-5% decrease in primary energy consumption and CO2 emissions when compared to a conventional hydronic heating system. Moreover, this configuration is capable of delivering annual savings in all the combinations of electricity and fuel price between 0.05 and 0.15 € kW h-1. As can be expected, these results are sensitive to the electrical energy supply mix, building type, and climate.

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Energy Conversion and Management
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Alanne, K. (Kari), Söderholm, N. (Niklas), Sirén, K. (Kai), & Beausoleil-Morrison, I. (2010). Techno-economic assessment and optimization of Stirling engine micro-cogeneration systems in residential buildings. Energy Conversion and Management, 51(12), 2635–2646. doi:10.1016/j.enconman.2010.05.029