VTT the Technical Research Centre of Finland builds a test apartment electrified by solar and wind energy
Building-specific energy production solutions are becoming common in the near
future. This allows the possessor of real estate to decide whether to use the
energy production for transportation in addition to living, or sell it to the
electricity distribution network. VTT has built an energy self-sufficient test
apartment in Oulu for the research and development of building-specific energy
production. The research environment, connected to the electricity
distribution network, produces the energy required for living and motoring
with its own solar and wind power.
The roof of VTT’s research environment holds a 5.5 kilowatt wind power plant
and around 20 square metres of solar cells generating 4 kilowatts. Together,
they produce enough electricity for living and running an electric car. The
test apartment is used as accommodation for visiting scientists, and it is
located in connection with VTT’s offices in Linnanmaa, Oulu.
attempt is made to fight the climate change by curbing carbon dioxide
emissions. Finland, too, has committed itself to reducing emissions in both
energy production and transportation, and will increase the amount of
electricity produced with nuclear power and support the utilisation of
renewable energy sources. Local, distributed energy production is also one of
the means that can be used to improve the production reliability, for example
in preparation for long power outages. VTT’s test apartment can be lived in
for around two days with no external energy.
development requires reducing the use of fossil fuels. “It would be a major
step into this direction for Finland, if we were to start using electric cars
powered by renewable energy sources for private transportation in urban
traffic. Intelligent energy solutions would also promote change in consumer
habits towards lower energy consumption and costs”, says Jussi Paakkari, Vice
President, R&D, ICT at VTT.
“We are talking about a
complete solution including a renewable energy production unit, a wind power
plant, solar panels, electric car, electricity storages and an ecological
apartment, graphical displays and a database solution allowing one to monitor
the electricity consumption”, recounts Klaus Känsälä, Senior Research
Scientist at VTT.
The apartment is equipped with normal,
energy-saving household appliances and other equipment. Lighting is optimised,
based on a low-voltage network using 24 VDC voltage. The resident can affect
the energy consumption through his or her choices.
collecting data of the apartment’s consumption and production and the choices
made by the residents in its database. Consumption data is stored in the
database at one-minute intervals. VTT’s research scientists utilise the data
in designing future forms of living and sizing the new systems. The test
apartment helps VTT to study what are the benefits of energy self-sufficient
living for the consumer.
In the future, the consumer will
monitor and control the electricity consumption of his or her living and
transportation, and can even sell electricity to the electricity distribution
company . This is made possible by the development work on intelligent
electricity networks, improving the efficiency, flexibility and dynamism of
old-fashioned electricity distribution systems.
future, the energy market will be more flexible, and the price of energy will
vary according to the availability of renewable energy sources such as wind
and solar power. Building an intelligent electricity network requires
developments in equipment and the networking of various equipment systems with
the help of information and communication technologies.
is using the energy self-sufficient apartment to study, for example, how much
the resident can reduce the energy consumption peaks and how much the energy
consumed by living can be reduced.
In the future, local power
plants could be located in, for example, office buildings, commercial
buildings and residential buildings.