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ManagEnergy is a technical support initiative of the Intelligent Energy - Europe (IEE) programme of the European Commission which aims to assist actors from the public sector and their advisers working on energy efficiency and renewable energy at the local and regional level.

Heat gets smart in Aarhus

Kaj Leonhart Petersen, M.Sc.Eng.is a senior energy planner and a partner in Danish consultancy EC Network.

At the end of 2014 the City of Aarhus, Denmark, signed the last contract with the meter supplier Kamstrup to complete the rolling-out of smart heat meters to 53,000 district heating customers by 2017. This is part of the city’s planned intelligent energy system, contributing to the goal of becoming CO2 neutral in 2030. Kaj Leonhart of EC Networks explains more about the smart meters, how the data can be used and the expected benefits.

Denmark has set the goal to get a society without use of fossil fuels in 2050 and be 100% based on renewable energy. The smart grid is an important part of this strategy, to allow for greater exploitation of electricity generated by renewable energy sources and encourage consumers to use energy more efficiently. The Danish energy system has a very high share of renewable generation. The wind power generation is equal to more than 39% of the Danish electricity demand (2014), and is planned to reach 50% penetration in 2020.

In 2013, the Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Building published its strategy setting the course for development of a smart grid. A key element of the strategy is the deployment of hourly read meters to all consumers in 2020. In 2013, smart electricity meters were installed for about 50% of consumers. This accounts for about 75% of electricity consumption.

The smart grid will also be incorporated into the gas and district heating grids as part of an integrated smart energy system. Denmark has extremely well developed district heating and gas grids and therefore there is a good basis to exploit the synergies between the different types of energy and grid.

As regards district heating the smart heat meter project in the City of Aarhus is one of the front runner projects. To learn further about this project ManagEnergy visited in Aarhus in 2013 to hold a workshop on cost effective metering (in cooperation with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and Directorate-General for Energy). http://www.managenergy.net/networking_meetings/1286

Rolling out “Smart Aarhus”

Today the district heating in Aarhus covers 95 % of the total need for heating in the city. By 2015, 100 % of the heat production will be based on carbon-neutral biofuel and waste, helping the City of Aarhus to be CO2 neutral in 2030. This solution is part of the future overall intelligent energy system and demonstrates the thinking behind the initiative “Smart Aarhus”, where public and private companies and knowledge institutions collaborate to make digital data about the city available to citizens, city authorities and industry.

Aarhus’s smart metering project is driven by AffaldVarme Aarhus, the local district heating company. AffaldVarme Aarhus is currently in the process of rolling out smart heat meters to 53,000 customers (2012 - 2017), which affects around 350,000 people in the Aarhus region. The new intelligent heat meters automatically transmit the heat consumption to the supplier, replacing the annual self-reading of the individual households. It will be one of the world’s most advanced remote meter reading systems.

The first 13,300 meters (installation completed by February 2014) were supplied by Kamstrup, who also installed the second lot of 10,500 meters (completed in December 2014). In November 2014 Kamstrup won the final round of tenders for 28,000 meters (to be completed by 2017). The project costs €32.6m (243m DKK). Just over 40% of that is funded by the customers paying an additional €8 (60 DKK) per year. The remaining 60% is funded by AffaldVarme Aarhus through the optimisation of operations.

Anticipated gains from the new smart meter system include administrative benefits for AffaldVarme Aarhus in terms of billing and budgeting. Operationally, the district heating company expects to be able to reduce water and heat losses and increase reliability of service. At the ManagEnergy workshop, Katrina Marshall (EC Network) interviewed Erik Brender and Katrine Svanborg to find out more about the project.

According to Erik Brender, project manager at AffaldVarme Aarhus,

‘Currently, we are losing 283m3 water per day which costs us around €480,000 (3.6m dkk) per year; we expect to reduce this loss by a half. Smart meters measure energy used, cubic metres used and the temperatures. By combining these three parameters, you can figure out very accurately how much a customer needs to pay for the energy used in the building. More accurate pre-billing is one of the main benefits we gain from this smart meter roll out.’

‘The data can also be used to benefit budgeting at AffaldVarme Aarhus. With the live data now available we can go online and click for a specific area and know how much heat has been used in that area over the last month. This information will help to bridge the gap between the heat that AffaldVarme Aarhus buys and sells.’

Innovative partnerships

EMT Nordic and Saseco (from 2014 Saseco merged with Kamstrup) are key partners in delivering the IT systems needed for data collection and management. EMT Nordic is responsible for ‘EnergyKey’ which is a database of all customers, the transaction kernel which transfers data to and from many sources. The system has been developed as an open interface for possible future integrations, for example to visualise other utility usage.

‘A huge challenge is that utility companies are developing their own platforms rather than working together or using a platform that is already developed. Currently, it is only possible for private households to enter their consumption data manually,’

said Karina Svanborg, Energy Anthropologist at the Danish Technological Institute, and part of the team monitoring customer reactions to the smart meters.

Project partner Saseco (now Kamstrup) has developed a tool called eButler which allows customers to have access to all of their own data. This empowers the customer and, and is hoped, will motivate energy savings through behavioural change.

According to Karina,

‘The first hurdle is encouraging customers to log into their eButler account to find their consumption data.’

‘Once shown how to log into eButler, most of the customers are really intrigued by the data and often surprised by how detailed it is. People see their lives in the data; “this is when I got home”, “this is when my son came home”, etc. ‘

‘When looking at the data for heat some people also start talking about “this is when we turned on the TV” and can start confusing heating with electricity. It emphasises the importance of being able to see information about electricity and heating (and water) on the same platform, so that customers can visually see the difference.’

Project manager Erik Bender said

‘AffaldVarme Aarhus has a demo which shows how eButler could be used with all utilities integrated. For this, electricity and water consumption have been manually entered. By knowing additional information about the house, the platform comes up with a rating for electricity and energy consumption. This allows the consumer to know where their focus could be for improvements.’

‘For municipality buildings we can use other means to gain information about water and electricity data which can be fed into the platform through Energy Key. By using this “back door” we are able to present the full data set on the eButler platform. We hope that this will encourage the other utilities to get involved so that we don’t have to use the “back door” anymore.’

Above: eButler Interface showing a comparison between electricity, water and heating usage

Smart Grid Live Lab in Stenderup, Denmark

Fifty kilometres south of Aarhus there is a little village called Stenderup (Horsens Area) serving as a trial site for the smart grid system (Insero Live Lab). The trial site involves upgrading the homes of 20 families to the intelligent home of the future with the latest technology within energy and ICT - linked together and managed via a local smart grid. The families will test the technologies in real life and develop them further in close cooperation with suppliers, producers and manufacturers.

This includes testing the Ebutler software used in the Aarhus Project as well as the iESA Software (Interactive Energy Savings Account) developed by the German company Senercon in relation to energy management based on smart heat metering (gas meters). Insero Live Lab is run by the Insero Horsens Foundation. The MangEnergy partner EC Network is involved to help with testing the iESA Software in close cooperation with the 20 families.


The activity is done in the framework of FINESCE (Future INtErnet Smart Utility ServiCEs) which is the smart energy use case project of the 2ndphase of Future Internet Public Private Partnership Programme (FI-PPP) funded by the European Union within FP7.


Replicability is of particular interest due to the requirements of Articles 9,10 and 11 of the Energy Efficiency Directive , with a number of new provisions (which came into force in 2014 across Europe) on metering and billing of individual consumption of heating and cooling.

Above: Communication is key; Erik and a colleague at AffaldVarme Aarhus explaining how the system works

What works in Aarhus, however, may not be immediately replicated in other cities. Erik Bender said,

‘In Denmark there is a lot of confidence in the government and systems; people aren’t worried about data being measured on their homes. Culturally, this can work for Denmark because of that trust. We had a discussion at the workshop with participants from other countries who said that one of the main concerns is that they are hesitant about having this level of data available. For them it will be about finding a balance and being very transparent about what the data will be used for.’

According to energy anthropologist, Karina Svanborg,

‘When it comes to residential customers, the American electricity company O-Power have found that competition between neighbours and areas can be effective in reducing energy use. This is an idea AffaldVarme Aarhus are considering for their customers too. One of the main concerns is of the sensitivity of data when you have to keep data for this type of purpose’.

‘It is very important to prioritise the security of the data on this platform. The data is sensitive because it gives insight into people’s lives; it is relatively easy to extract information about when people are using heat and when they are not at home. There is a lot of information that can be used and misused.’

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