An experimental district heating and cooling is in operation since April 2017 at the French National Research Center for Solar Energy (CEA INES). A 300 m² solar thermal plant with six different technologies of solar panels combined with a 40 m³ storage tank feed the network. This platform is ready for 4th Generation District Heating development as it allows to test decentralized feed-in, power-to-heat equipment, combined heat and power and more.

This experimental platform will allow to implement, test and validate innovative components or systems in real environment, advanced management algorithms, dynamic modeling and simulations. It also links the three different energy vectors (heat, gas, electricity) and is connected with existing INES experimental platform (i.e. PV collectors or electricity storage).The production plant is composed of 300 m² of vacuum tube and flat plate solar collectors with the possibility of implementation of other new fields, a condensing gas boiler of 280 kW and a 40 m3 storage tank. It will be completed in the coming months with a power-to-heat equipment (heat pump) and a combined heat and power boiler. Several dozens of hydraulic configuration of the central plant can be tested. For example, solar collectors can feed in the network either in a centralized or decentralized way with or without storage. One of the consumer is connected to INES semi-virtual test bench that can emulate space heating and domestic hot water loads: it is used to develop and test innovative and decentralized feed-in substations.

An absorption machine coupled with a storage tank of 5 m3 will recover the heat coming from the heat network in order to supply the experimental cooling network. This technology platform will be used to develop and demonstrate new products and systems with industrial partners.

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