“Towards innovative district energy management: a case study with stochastic renewable generators”

The conversion of ocean wave power into sustainable electrical power represents a major opportunity to Nations endowed with such a kind of resource. At the present time the most of the technological innovations aiming at converting such resources are at early stage of development, with only a handful of devices close to be at the commercial demonstration stage. The Seaspoon device, thought as a large energy harvester, catches the kinetic energy of ocean waves with promising conversion efficiency, and robust technology, according to specific “wave-motion climate”. University of Genoa developed and patented a prototype to be deployed in medium average energy content seas (i.e. Mediterranean or Eastern Asia seas).

This paper presents the installation phases of the first real scale prototype installed in the gulf of Genova and the monitoring of its performances. A brief description of the Seaspoon WEC is presented together with the monitoring equipment and procedures. In this research a thermoeconomic analysis of its integration in a real polygenerative district is also investigated. The impact of such this kind of stochastic renewable generator in the Savona Campus Smart Polygeneration Microgrid (SPM) is evaluated. The SPM plant is made up by (i) two auxiliary boilers (500kWth each), (ii) four micro gas turbines (30kWe, 2x65kWe and 100kWe), (iii) an internal combustion engine fed by natural gas (20kWe), (iv) an absorption chiller (100 kWf) and (v) PV panels for a total power installed of 100 kWe. Generators are “distributed” around the campus and they are coupled to electrical and thermal storages. Since the system is constituted by co-generative prime movers it can supply both electrical and thermal energy of the campus and the integration of storage is really important in order to follow both the requests, pursuing the best management strategy.  

The analysis of this smart-grid is performed exploiting a software developed by the Author’s research group, which allows for the thermo-economic optimization of poly-generative energy systems. A model of the real plant was built and it was implemented in the software. The off-design curves of the real devices installed in the campus were used in order to increase the reliability of the simulation results. The grid was simulated considering the time dependent nature of the demands throughout the whole year.  The model was used to simulate the smart grid behavior during the whole year, and find the best operational strategy. A time-dependent thermo-economic hierarchical approach has been used, considering the time-dependent electrical, thermal and cooling load demands during the year as problem constraints. The results are presented and discussed in depth and show the strong interaction between fossil and renewable resources, particularly the impact of unpredictable and randomized generators like the WECs ones. A dedicated model of the Seaspoon was implemented and exploited in the code.