Smart Energy NL

iCARE zero-energy buildings

iCARE zero-energy buildings
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.

The iCARE (Personalised Climate and Ambience contRol for zero-Energy buildings) project takes a multi-pronged approach in order to create a zero-energy building (ZEB) by addressing both energy harvesting and reduction of energy consumption.

iCARE Goals

iCare develops an Intelligent Power Management System (IPMS) that uses sensor readings obtained from a self-learning Wireless Sensor and Actuator Network (WSAN), and other data such as publicly available weather forecasts and agendas of office workers to decide when to store harvested energy and how to distribute it throughout the building to maximize energy efficiency.

Energy demand in buildings

Project i-Care is a cooperative venture between TU Eindhoven and TU Twente. Main aim of the i-Care project is optimization of energy production with the energy demand in buildings by considering aspects of flexibility of the building itself and the occupants.

  • The idea is to aid smart grids in achieving their targets by exploiting avenues that comfort requirements can possibly provide.
  • These include utilizing thermal mass of the building as a storage opportunity, exploring aspects of user behavior, exploiting the full breadth of thermal comfort zones etc.
  • The hypothesis is that such aspects could provide that little bit of extra edge for the smart grid to be able to balance supply and demand.

Maths and Algorithms

On their part, TU Twente have been working on the mathematical aspects of developing algorithms to balance supply and demand response of buildings.

The TU Eindhoven group aims at providing the input in terms of building and occupant flexibility possibilities that can help reduce load or shift load profiles.

The stand that thermal comfort can be achieved in a more dynamic, flexible environment, and not just tightly controlled monotonous surroundings is gradually gaining support.

Multi-node thermophysiological model

An extensive literature review was undertaken to examine aspects of thermal comfort in transient conditions and non-uniform environments. The future activities would include use of a multi-node thermophysiological model and field studies to ascertain and draw boundaries of thermal comfort limits of typical occupants.

These examinations would hopefully help establish broad enough comfort limits to ease the task of the smart-grid algorithms.


The iCARE 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.

iCARE 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.

Building and climate control

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.

Power quality

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.

Electrical energy storage

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 solutions.

Contact TU Eindhoven

Post­doctoral researcher
A K (Asit) Mishra, MSc, PhD

Supervisor: M G L C (Marcel) Loomans

Contact TU Twente

Vincent Bakker
Gerard Smit


2015 – 2017


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