Building energy flexibility: definitions, sources, indicators, and quantification methods

Publication Name

Building Energy Flexibility and Demand Management


High penetration of intermittent renewable energy sources has created a great need for increased flexibility on the demand side that would allow buildings and electrical power grids to adapt to increasingly dynamic energy supply and demand conditions. Failure to adapt may carry serious electrical blackouts, particularly during summer heat wave episodes. To support the transition to a renewable energy future with fluctuating power generation, demand can be adjusted to the available power by incorporating energy flexible systems. The building sector accounts for a significant amount of global energy usage and offers great opportunities for energy flexibility. This chapter will introduce several aspects of building energy flexibility including the energy flexibility definitions, resources, indicators, and quantification methods, and discuss the importance of energy flexibility in reducing building operational costs and facilitating the penetration of renewable energy in buildings. The main elements of building energy flexibility will be discussed, and an overview of energy flexibility indicators and major energy flexibility quantification methods developed to date will be provided. The energy flexibility indicators will be compared in terms of fundamental variables including time (i.e., duration or response time), capacity (i.e., the amount of energy that can be shifted or shed), and cost, energy, and effectiveness of the systems used. Lastly, a case study will be provided to demonstrate how to calculate the energy flexibility potential of a building that was conditioned by an air source heat pump and a thermal energy storage system.

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