Energy and Buildings, Vol.185, 148-161, 2019
Laboratory-based assessment of HVAC equipment for power grid frequency regulation: Methods, regulation performance, economics, indoor comfort and energy efficiency
Real-time power supply and demand balances are critical to ensure stable power frequency and quality power services. However, the growing integration of renewable energy increasingly challenges the power infrastructure because most of the renewable resources, e.g., solar and wind energy, are intermittent and difficult to predict. To meet stringent power frequency requirements, more fast reacting frequency regulation resources are being brought online among which grid-level batteries are the dominant ones. Buildings consume more than 73% of the electricity in the US, offering significant regulation reserve for the power grid. Variable-speed air-conditioning and heat pump systems are taking an increasing share of the market due to higher efficiency requirements imposed by federal agencies. In addition to efficiency benefits, variable-speed cooling/heating systems are also perfectly suited to provide frequency regulation service since these units can modulate their power continuously over a wide range. This paper presents a methodology and case study results for laboratory-based assessments of power frequency regulation service performance for variable-speed HVAC cooling equipment. The assessment methodology involves the use of both open- and closed-loop testing in psychrometric chambers. The open-loop testing quantifies the maximum possible performance of regulation services that is building independent, whereas the closed-loop testing provides representative performance for regulation services when the equipment must maintain comfort conditions for typical "virtual" buildings. Two air conditioning units, a variable-speed packaged rooftop unit (RTU) and a split heat pump with an after-market variable-speed retrofit, were utilized for regulation tests performed in psychrometric chambers. Both open-loop and closed-loop regulation control strategies were developed and tested for this equipment. Open-loop test results showed that variable-speed HVAC equipment can provide high quality regulation service with performance scores of up to 0.98. With PJM historical wholesale energy and regulation prices, the estimated regulation credit can offset up to 48% of the electricity price. The closed-loop regulation control was shown to have negligible impact on indoor comfort with temperature fluctuations smaller than 0.1 degrees C. Power regulation also did not cause any efficiency degradation for the closed-loop tests. In fact, for more humid climate conditions, the electrical input for cooling can even be reduced with regulation control due to reduced moisture removal. (C) 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.