LowUP: Tell us a bit about your company. What does it do and in which way is it involved in energy efficiency?
JP: EURECAT is the result of the merging process of the most important technology centres in Catalonia. We are currently participating in more than 60 EU funded collaborative projects, mainly in the Horizon 2020 Programme. In addition to this wide experience at European level, Eurecat is also a strong player in the various R&D programmes sponsored by the Spanish and Catalan administrations. Technology transfer is also an essential activity in Eurecat, with 36 international patents and 7 technology-based companies. Eurecat R&D, innovation and training activities span from industrial technologies (metallic, plastic and composite materials, manufacturing processes, autonomous and professional robotics, functional printing and fabrics, simulations, sustainability and chemistry) to digital technologies (digital humanities, big data analytics, data mining and multimedia technologies amongst others) and biotech (omic science and nutrition & health).
Additionally, EURECAT has been accepted by the European Commission as a KETs (Key Enabling Technologies) Technology Centre in order to collaborate with SMEs on close-to-market research and innovation activities.
Eurecat works with the fields of hybrid renewable energies systems, electric mobility, predictive maintenance in industrial and photovoltaic plants, building simulation, industrial waste heat recovery, optimization of the energy management and also performs energy efficiency studies.
LowUP: What is your company’s role in the LowUP project?
JP: Eurecat is leading the development of an advanced control system that integrates data from demand forecasts, operational optimization and anomaly detection algorithms in order to manage the acclimatization of buildings efficiently in a daily recommendation of operation for the systems involved. The advanced control is able to detect deviations between forecasts and real operational data or any anomaly in the operation of a system and, consequently, recommend new optimal configurations for the whole HVAC solution in order to achieve the highest comfort level. The system developed allows to interact with several commercial solutions (SCADA solutions, PLCs, …) due to the usage of standardized protocols like OPC-UA, Bacnet, etc. however when not used it can be easily integrated with the development of connectors. The simulation models has always to be adapted to each installation.
In addition, Eurecat has supervised the right development of the two industrial systems that combined can be used for industrial purposes to get the most of sewage fluids and obtain water at high temperatures for third processes.
LowUP: When do you think the nZEB (near-zero buildings) will become a reality? How do you see the energy efficient building market in 10 years?
JP: Although the construction of zero buildings is already a reality, and its presence in the market is related to demand for new construction, we think they will become when:
- public administration enforces the application of regulation with high fines to ensure obligation. If powerful holdings in construction sector and service providers (installers, facility managers) press administration to go in that direction (when new construction rate decreases, alternative job generation has to be found)
- energy cost increases dramatically and the investments needed for nZEB pay off.
- nZEB related technology costs decreases so it is worth the investment from a economical point of view.
LowUP: What do you think are the main barriers for energy efficient solutions in buildings?
JP: The main barriers, probably in this order:
- energy efficiency solutions does not pay off, or at least not in the short term, especially for households (domestic sector)
- they imply extra tasks to people that usually are already too busy. Espacially in tertiary buildings, the energy efficient solutions are assigned to facility managers and ultimately to technicians, often not prepared for that, and stressed to solve more urgent matters.
- lack of awareness: technicians are not properly trained to handle them, service agreements don’t prioritize them, individuals are more concerned about costs than environmental impact.
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