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News – What`s happening in energy research

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Researchers develop a new energy management system
25.05.2011

Smart offices with low energy consumption

An innovative energy management system will save as much energy as possible at the workplace taking individual user behaviour into account. That is the goal of the “pinta” research project. pinta stands for “Pervasive energy via internet-based telecommunication services”. An association of industrial partners, the University of Kassel, the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology and Kompetenznetzwerk Dezentrale Energietechnologien (Expert Network for Decentral Energy Technologies) will work on user-specific control of electrical devices and heating/cooling systems for office buildings over the next three years.

Computers, printers and scanners, as well as lighting and heating/cooling systems are the main energy consumers in offices. In order to minimise their energy consumption, researchers rely on context-aware energy management. User-specific information, such as the activities of office workers and their location are recorded via wireless sensor networks and mobile phones, to activate electric devices and energy consumers automatically. The users do not have to take any action manually. “Context-awareness is considered promising for adaptive energy management,” confirms Prof. Klaus David, Head of the Communication Technology Faculty at the University of Kassel.

Taking an office workplace as an example, the significant potential savings made possible by the system are clear: if the user is away, e.g. at lunch or for meetings, the pinta system automatically deactivates the heating and electronic devices such as lights, PC or printers, or sets them to sleep mode. The context-aware energy management system automatically identifies times when a PC is not in use, for example. In these periods, the computer switches to standby mode. This can reduce energy consumption by up to 30%.

The pinta system is currently being developed and tested in a laboratory environment at the University of Kassel and at Siemens in Munich. The researchers then want to test it in an administrative building of the municipal authorities in a town in Northern Hesse. “We actively support the municipal authorities in maximising potential savings. It is important that the solutions are also transferrable to other municipal authorities. We want to set an example for greater energy efficiency in local government,” explains Thomas Weber, a Member of the Executive Board of E.ON Mitte. New, marketable products and services are developed based on the energy efficiency yields, in particular sensor networks, energy efficiency services, ICT services and system solutions for mobile devices. The project received approximately three million Euros in funding from the German Ministry of Economics and Technology as part of the “IT2Green - Energy-efficient ICT for medium-sized companies, authorities and residential applications” competition.

Project partners

pinta is a joint project of E.ON Mitte and Siemens, together with the Kompetenznetzwerk Dezentrale Energietechnologien (deENet) and the faculties of Communication Technology (ComTec) and Public Law, esp. Environmental and Technology Law at the University of Kassel and the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES).
The project partners also involved other companies in the development (ekom21, eCO2IT, IBP Fraunhofer-Institut, PhoneTec and Networking Concepts).

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