Future Living & Spaces

New showroom demonstrates how the ectogrid™ works

Caroline Wendt
April 20, 2020

Would the waste heat from a server room be able to heat a grocery store or a residential building? And what if offices or labs are connected to the system? A new showroom at Medicon Village demonstrates how E.ONs energy innovation ectogrid™ connects the area’s buildings so they can share even small surpluses of heat and cooling with each other. Visitors come here from all over the world to experience the system, which can be a piece in the puzzle to reduce both climate imprint and costs.

In the recently constructed office building The Spark at Medicon Village you will see visitors positioning, twisting, and turning models of buildings placed on an interactive screen. Here one can test how the energy needs of different types of buildings can balance each other in E.ONs energy innovation ectogrid™. By turning the models one can increase or decrease the potential energy needs of the building, while blue and red currents show whether the properties are generating a heating or cooling surplus.

By placing the building with Medicon Village’s logo on the screen on the table – the so called ectotable – it shows a representation of how the ectogrid™ works in real-time for the properties of Medicon Village. This includes offices and labs from Astra Zeneca’s time but also the newly constructed office building The Spark and three apartment buildings that are being built by Peab Bostad across the Scheelevägen. A wall behind the table has three screens which, among other things, can give forecasts of what the energy needs will looks like during different seasons, at different times and in different weather conditions.

– There is a big interest in the energy system, says Sonny Strömberg, business area manager for the property segment at E.ON Energy Solutions. Decision makers, municipalities and property owners from all over the world come here to see the system due to the potential it offers to reduce their climate impact. It is easy to understand the problem with systems where waste heat and cooling are vented away and instead see the benefits with this system that takes care of the surplus. We think that we have done something very simple that actually significantly reduces the net energy supplied.

It is fun and seemingly easy for the visitor to test how the installation works, but everything is of course far more complicated than that. E.ON’s software and the system that visualizes it is a cloud-based solution based on Microsoft’s Azure platform. The result is so good that Microsoft has a copy of the ectotable in their own showrooms in Seattle and London to visualize what their platform can be used for.  

It was at the end of 2018 that E.ON began installing its energy innovation ectogrid™ at Medicon Village in order to better manage the buildings’ heat and cooling surpluses. In each property there are two pipes, one for heat and one for cooling. The pipes are uninsulated and the ground around the pipes is used for storage. In each building there is an energy center that balances the building’s energy needs and exchanges the heating and cooling surplus with surrounding buildings. There is also a ‘balancing tank’ in the area that stores the systems surplus.

– In the buildings that we have implemented the ectogrid™ we have seen that the net energy supplied is reduced because we can balance the energy between the buildings and manage the surpluses, says Erik Jagesten, property manager at Medicon Village. Our goal is for the net energy supplied to be reduced by 80 percent and costs reduced by 20 percent. We have now connected approximately half of the buildings and by the end of 2021 it should be ready.

The showroom opened in November 2019 and the installation tells us about the climate challenges facing the world, the goals to be reached and how the ectogrid™ could be part of the solution. One part of the installation is about patents, and a large blackboard containing sketches together with books and documents on the table in front are actually also an example of the patent art genre. There are currently 39 patent applications, 15 of which have been approved and the remainder of which have a positive preliminary decision. The patents and sketches have been sourced from the work by Per Rosén, technical specialist at E.ON, and his team. The individual components of ectogrid™ come from existing conventional energy systems, but combined in a new way, thereby creating a system that can effectively utilize the low-value heating and cooling surpluses that exist in society.  

ectogrid™ can be built as a standalone system – like at Medicon Village – but the configuration varies from case to case depending on the conditions already in place. In Nyhamnen in Malmö the existing district heating will balance and support a local ectogrid™, which will provide and share heating and cooling between offices and housing. In Örebro there is a district cooling network that delivers cooling to the hospital – ectogrid™ connects the hospital to housing so that the hospital’s waste heat can warm the housing and the waste cooling from the housing can go to the hospital.

– The great quality of the system is collaboration and we are the bridge between cooling and heating, says Stefan Johnsson, Head of Sales IES at E.ON Energy Solutions. We have several different business models and it is the customers needs that reign. If the customer wants to, E.ON can even build, finance, own and operate the system in the customer’s basement. We can share the investment and the costumer can become part-owners of a whole system with ground pipes and balancing unit etc. As one of Europe’s largest energy companies we aim to build a sustainable future and help to address important trends in society – in this case digitization, decentralization and urbanization.

When the European Spallation Source (ESS) is ready in Lund, ectogrid™ can take advantage of the waste heat from the plant. Waste heat at higher temperatures can be passed onto the regular district heating system and the lower temperature waste (15-30 degrees C) can be used to heat surrounding buildings in Brunnshög. Right now, for example, an ectogrid-solution is being built for the office area at ESS.

– It is particularly fun that we can be involved in finding an energy solution for a part of Brunnshög, says Michaela Ahlberg, Key Account Manager at E.ON Energy Solutions

The showroom at Medicon Village is primarily open for visiting groups and study tours.

Picture: In the showroom at Medicon Village, Michaela Ahlberg, Stefan Johnsson, Sonny Strömberg and Erik Jagesten test how energy needs in different types of properties can be balanced through E.ON’s energy innovation ectogrid™.


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