dream research

DREAM: Energy streams in buildings

dream research
The DREAM project developed and tested real-time control systems for the energy management of buildings connected in a micro-grid to reduce CO2 without comfort loss and integrated new micro generation techniques based on renewables.

DREAM: Dynamic Real-Time Control of Energy Streams in Buildings


The main goal of the DREAM project is to study, develop, prototype and test real-time control systems for the energy management of buildings connected in a micro-grid to:

  1. reduce the energy related CO2 footprint of buildings without loss of comfort for the owners or inhabitants
  2. to efficiently integrate new distributed micro-generation techniques based on renewable sources.

EU CO2 reduction targets

These goals are in line with the EU targets for 2020:

  • 20% reduction in emissions compared to 1990 levels
  • 20% share of renewable energies in overall EU energy consumption
  • 20% savings in EU energy consumption compared to projections.


One of the problems of integrating renewable energy resources in the generation process, however, is that they increase the dynamism of the electricity system.

Many of the generators using renewable sources only provide energy at certain times of the day (e.g. a PV produces more when there is direct sunlight and windmills generate only when there is wind) and they often cannot be controlled.

Smart Grid

To tackle these challenges the usual vision is to move to a smart grid; an energy grid that allows for more efficient use of all forms of energy through the use of “smart” solutions. These solutions come in the form of information and communication technologies on all levels in the grid, from a “smart” device in households to improved forecasting and modeling on national or even international levels of the grid.

To tackle many interesting questions in the research area of smart grids the Computer Architecture for Embedded Systems (CAES) and Discrete Mathematics and Mathematical Programming (DMMP) groups of the department of Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Applied Mathematics have combined their strength in our energy research group Energy in Twente.

DREAM approach

The DREAM approach to a smart grid consists of several focus area’s for research. The main tool in all area’s is an internal simulator called TRIANA which we use to gain insights in many interesting topics concerning energy. These topics include, but are not limited to, demand side management (DMS), micro-grids, building and climate control, power quality and electrical energy storage.

UT Approach

Demand side management

The integration of uncontrollable renewable energy sources (RES) such as wind and PV can cause major problems for the stability of the power grid, as the grid needs to be in constant balance.

While generation of conventional power plants can be scaled up and down as required to match supply and demand, most RES sources obviously cannot.

This asks for a more sophisticated approach to matching supply and demand if a high level of RES integration is desired. One side that can be considered is finding and exploiting flexibility on the consumer side.

Examples of this flexibility include the charging of electric vehicles or even the load cycles of a fridge or freezer.

Micro grids

Micro-grids are small sections of the electricity grid, usually consisting of a small neighborhood or even a single (large) building. They only contain part of the low-voltage (LV) distribution network and possibly a small part of the medium-voltage (MV) network.

Research into micro-grids is focused into finding their possibilities and limitations with respect to integrating (renewable) distributed generation of electricity, options for CO2 neutral operation or the potential of operating disconnected from the main grid.


A large amount of energy consumed in large buildings, such as office buildings, is used for climate control. These systems attempt to keep the climate parameters within certain boundaries uniformly across the whole building. While the demands of the individuals inside can vary.

Research in this area is conducted to develop a system capable of creating climate bubbles around individuals suiting their demands. The upside is that these bubbles can create flexibilities for the climate control system to better use locally generating sources and save energy overall.


The quality of the power supply is subject to very strict rules and regulations in most countries. With the integration distributed generation mostly in the form of renewable energy sources the power quality becomes more harder to manage and guarantee while this remains required.

The conventional solution of upgrading the existing system with newer, thicker cables and transformers is very expensive and calls for research in the potential of other solutions that can guarantee the required quality of our power supply.


With the development of new batteries and other techniques the possibilities of storing (large amounts of) electricity are opening up in the future. Integration of systems exploiting these techniques can aid in the requirement of constant balance in the power grid as well as assist with power quality issues. Nevertheless the available systems remain very expensive.

This calls for thorough research in the possibilities of energy storage systems as an economically feasible alternative to conventional solution


Funding: ICTRegie, NWO and STW
Running Period: 2011-2014
Staff: Albert Molderink, Johann Hurink, Gerard Smit
Ph.D. student: Herman Toersche

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