Do commercial buildings become less efficient when they provide grid ancillary services?

Abstract

Commercial buildings offer a vast thermal energy storage capability. Control of building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can potentially be used to balance variations in renewable generation and load. Specifically, buildings can provide ancillary services to the grid by decreasing and increasing consumption with respect to their baseline, making them appear as energy storage to the power system operator. However, a recent study has shown that buildings providing these services tend to consume more energy, resulting in a low effective round-trip efficiency. To explore this phenomenon further, experiments were conducted on three buildings on the University of Michigan campus. The buildings were chosen to provide a variety in structure, size, and HVAC system layout. They were instrumented in early summer of 2017 and baseline power and building automation system (BAS) data were collected for several months in 2017 and 2018. The building thermostats were then perturbed through predefined patterns emulating ancillary service events, enabling detailed investigation of the resulting electrical energy consumption. This paper presents experimental results, focusing on the additional energy consumed and effective input/output efficiency. The three buildings respond with mean round-trip efficiencies ranging from 34 to 81%, with individual tests yielding efficiencies far outside that range. We also find that the efficiency of building response depends on the magnitude and polarity of the temperature setpoint changes. Our results are consistent with past experimental results, but inconsistent with past modeling results. This indicates that the models need to be improved in order to capture the energy impacts of ancillary service provision by buildings.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14

References

  1. Afshari, S., J. Wolfe, M.S. Nazir, I.A. Hiskens, J.X. Johnson, J.L. Mathieu, Y. Line, A.K. Barnes, D.A. Geller and S.N Backhaus. 2017. “An experimental study of energy consumption in buildings providing ancillary services”. IEEE Power and Energy Society Innovative Smart Grid Technologies Conference.

  2. Balandat, M., F. Oldewurtel, M. Chen, and C. Tomlin. 2014. “Contract design for frequency regulation by aggregations of commercial buildings.” Allerton Conference on Communications, Control and Computing, 38–45.

  3. Beil, I., Hiskens, I. A., & Backhaus, S. (2015). Round-trip efficiency of fast demand response in a large commercial air conditioner. Energy and Buildings, 97, 47–55.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Beil, I., Hiskens, I. A., & Backhaus, S. (2016). Frequency regulation from commercial building HVAC demand response. Proceedings of the IEEE, 104(4), 745–757.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Blum, D. H., Zakula, T., & Norford, L. K. (2016). Variable cost quantification for ancillary services provided by heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems. IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, 8(3), 1264–1273.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Cai, J., J.E. Braun and Y. Lin. 2018. Laboratory demonstration of variable-speed packaged air-conditioning units for provision of frequency regulation services. IEEE Power & Energy Society Innovative Smart Grid Technologies Conference.

  7. Callaway, D. S., & Hiskens, I. A. (2011). Achieving controllability of electrical loads. Proceedings of the IEEE, 99(1), 184–199.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Fabietti, L., Gorecki, T., Qureshi, F., Bitlislioglu, A., Lymperopoulos, I., & Jones, C. (2018). Experimental implementation of frequency regulation services using commercial buildings. IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, 9(3), 1657–1666.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Goddard, G., Klose, J., & Backhaus, S. (2014). Model development and identification for fast demand response in commercial HVAC systems. IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, 5(4), 2084–2092.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Hao, H., Lin, Y., Kowli, A. S., Barooah, P., & Meyn, S. (2014). Ancillary service to the grid through control of fans in commercial building HVAC systems. IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, 5(4), 2066–2074.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Henze, G., Felsmann, C., & Knabe, G. (2004). Evaluation of optimal control for active and passive building thermal storage. International Journal of Thermal Sciences, 43, 173–183.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Keskar A., D. Anderson, J.X. Johnson, I.A. Hiskens and J.L. Mathieu. 2018. “Experimental investigation of the additional energy consumed by building HVAC systems providing grid ancillary services.” ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings.

  13. Lin, Y., Barooah, P., Meyn, S., & Middelkoop, T. (2015). Experimental evaluation of frequency regulation from commercial building HVAC systems. IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, 6(2), 776–783.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Lin, Y., Mathieu, J. L., Johnson, J. X., Hiskens, I. A., & Backhaus, S. (2017). Explaining inefficiencies in commercial buildings providing power system ancillary services. Energy and Buildings, 152, 216–226.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Mathieu, J. L., Callaway, D. S., & Kiliccote, S. (2011). Variability in automated responses of commercial buildings and industrial facilities to dynamic electricity prices. Energy and Buildings, 43(12), 3322–3330.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. 2013. “National assessment of energy storage for grid balancing and arbitrage. Volume 2: Cost and Performance Characterization.” PNNL-21388: Phase II/Vol. 2.

  17. Pavlak, G. S., Henze, G. P., & Cushing, V. J. (2014). Optimizing commercial building participation in energy and ancillary service markets. Energy and Buildings, 81, 115–126.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Raman, N.S. and P. Barooah. 2018. “On the round-trip efficiency of an HVAC-based virtual battery”. https://arxiv.org/abs/1803.02883.

  19. U.S Energy Information Administration 2016. “Use of energy in the United States explained.” https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/.

  20. Vrettos, E., Oldewurtel, F., & Andersson, G. (2015). Robust energy-constrained frequency reserves from aggregations of commercial buildings. IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, 31(6), 4272–4285.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Vrettos, E., Kara, E. C., MacDonald, J., Andersson, G., & Callaway, D. S. (2018a). Experimental demonstration of frequency regulation by commercial buildings - Part I: modelling and hierarchical control design. IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, 9(4), 3213–3223.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Vrettos, E., Kara, E. C., MacDonald, J., Andersson, G., & Callaway, D. S. (2018b). Experimental demonstration of frequency regulation by commercial buildings - Part II: results and performance evaluation. IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, 9(4), 3224–3234.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Watson, D.S, S. Kiliccote, N. Motegi, and M.A. Piette. 2006. “Strategies for demand response in commercial buildings.” ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings.

  24. Zakeri, B., & Syri, S. (2015). Electrical energy storage systems: A comparative life cycle cost analysis. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 42, 569–596.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Zhao, P., Henze, G. P., Plamp, S., & Cushing, V. J. (2013). Evaluation of commercial building HVAC systems as frequency regulation providers. Energy and Buildings, 67, 225–235.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We are immensely grateful to Dr. Sina Afshari for setting up the experiments on campus. We also thank Paul Giessner for helping set up the code to process the building data, Scott Backhaus for insightful discussions, and Jonas Kersulis for his inputs on the paper. This work would not have been possible without the tremendous support of the staff at the University of Michigan’s Facilities and Operations Group and Energy Management Group. We would especially like to thank Kevin Morgan, Andrew Cieslinski, and Connor Flynn from the Energy Management group for their constant support and feedback. We also thank the building managers of Rackham, BBB, and Weill Hall for their cooperation with the research.

Funding

This research was funded by the University of Michigan’s MCubed Program and a Rackham Summer Award.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Aditya Keskar.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Keskar, A., Anderson, D., Johnson, J.X. et al. Do commercial buildings become less efficient when they provide grid ancillary services?. Energy Efficiency 13, 487–501 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12053-019-09787-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Ancillary services
  • Energy efficiency
  • Commercial buildings
  • HVAC
  • Building controls
  • Demand response