Ina De Jaeger
Robust models for energy management
Solar panels and wind turbines do not necessarily deliver their power when we actually need it at home - during cooking, washing or when charging our electric car. To balance supply and demand at local level, high-resolution energy models are needed. Ina De Jaeger studies how robust these models are to uncertainties.
Renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, are an excellent way of making society more sustainable. However, the lack of large-scale and affordable storage capacity (such as batteries) constitutes an obstacle. In fact, the period during which sustainable energy is generated often does not coincide with the peak energy use of the average household. This 'unbalance' is even greater when the house is equipped with an (electrically powered) heat pump.
This mismatch poses a threat to the electricity grid, because, if not managed properly, it may result in blackouts. This is also true on the local scale, all the more so as, at district level, the grid is increasingly being fed by decentralised sources such as roof-mounted solar panels.
Therefore, demand for energy and supply must be balanced as well as possible at his level. Tools used for this purpose include models and simulations. FWO researcher Ina De Jaeger works with these models at EnergyVille/VITO. As part of her PhD research, she is currently investigating the extent to which uncertainties determine the results of the model simulations.
"We can calculate and simulate models on the computer," says De Jaeger, "but major uncertainties remain if we have insufficient knowledge of the energy management and the characteristics of individual houses and buildings. I use statistical techniques to study which parameters are important, and how the associated uncertainties evolve within our models."
De Jaeger is currently working with detailed data of Boxbergheide, a district of more than 1200 buildings in Genk. It is located close to the EnergyVille campus, where De Jaeger spends a few days each week (the other days she works at KU Leuven). "The social contact with the other researchers is highly rewarding, even if they are working on other sustainability-related aspects. It forces you to look beyond your own domain so as not to lose sight of the overall picture."