The European Spallation Source (ESS) will be the world’s first sustainable research facility. One of the major challenges to accomplish this will be the facility’s energy consumption and costs related to it. ESS's Responsible, Renewable, Recyclable energy concept is the primary tool for realising this goal.
ESS is committed to an energy concept that consists of three parts:
Responsible–requires that the facility use as little energy as possible.
Renewable–requires that all energy must derive from renewable sources.
Recyclable–requires that as much surplus heat as possible is recycled.
Additionally, critical systems like the cooling and power systems must be Reliable to secure the facility’s operational availability for the researchers.
The 4R strategy – Responsible, Renewable, Recyclable and Reliable – will also ensure that ESS is carbon neutral and therefore contribute greatly to the sustainability of the facility.
ESS will set a new standard for large-scale research facilities by fulfilling its strategy, while the research done at ESS will put Europe in the lead of sustainable development.
The main purpose of Responsible is to monitor the estimated electricity consumption of ESS so it stays below the committed 270 GWh and to predict future energy related operations costs for the possibility to lower these as much as possible for the benefit of science.
Systematic energy management involves creating and maintaining an inventory of energy flows, including temperature levels. Together with system audits, this will be the base for an Energy Management System consisting of a policy, follow-up and reporting.
The cyclic energy inventory and audits encourages and maintains continuous dialogue between the energy group and all the other projects, thus promoting a strong energy culture at ESS.
The ESS Energy Concept has from the very beginning encompassed two specified paths towards achieving the energy goals. These were the establishment of an energy culture and regular energy inventories.
High-temperature cooling is a new idea that the Energy division is striving for. The key point is to cool equipment, wherever possible, at a temperature level that is sufficient to supply heat to the district heating system without adding additional energy. The rest must be upgraded by energy intensive heat pumps, if it is to be recycled into the district heating system. It would therefore be beneficial to find other applications for the low- and medium-grade heat. Read more about this under Recyclable.
The amount of electricity required for the operation of ESS corresponds to the annual output from 30-40 wind turbines (around 270 GWh/year). This is about as much as the annual consumption of 40 000 apartments or of a small Swedish municipality.
When ESS is fully commissioned, the power consumption in Lund will rise by 20-30%. The extra load on the Nordic power system would require power compensation from what is referred to as marginal production that currently emanates, to a substantial degree, from fossil fuels. That is not acceptable according to the energy policy of ESS.
When it comes to the supply of electricity to the facility, ESS has two main policies:
1. ESS is committed to renewable power production to compensate for the increased power consumption caused by ESS
2. It is vital for research operations that the cost of electricity for running the facility is competitive, stable and predictable
The first and second policies together imply that ESS cannot just buy electricity from an existing power source. The renewable promise combined with low cost, stability and predictability makes it necessary for ESS to initiate production of new renewable production facilities to compensate for its power consumption.
The second policy has to do with operation costs - establishing a well-designed solution for the power supply to ESS will serve as financial cushion and risk mitigation. By having a partnership with an external party in a way that resembles ownership will make a considerable contribution to channel scarce funds to the main purpose, i.e., research.
ESS is committed to not only recycle the surplus energy from its operations but also do it under a scope that is responsible. The total amount of surplus energy is estimated to 254 GWh annually and consists of hot water that is a result of the cooling process in the facility.
In order to optimise heat recovery efficiency, the cooling system is calculated to operate at three temperature levels: 30 °C, 55 °C and 80 °C where the high-temperature waste heat can be transferred and recycled directly into a district heating network. The lower temperatures are suitable to be utilized in food production systems.
For the medium and low temperatures of waste energy ESS holds a unique possibility to set a new standard on how to recycle energy and are in the process of developing a so called hybrid food production chain that can utilize the energy in commercial food production such as fish farming, green house production, feed protein production, micro algae and biogas.
A successful development would certainly connect ESS with its environment in an unexpected, although natural, way and contribute to a social and economic sustainability that goes beyond the walls of the facility.
ESS is a long-term commitment that will benefit coming generations and contribute to manage global environmental challenges both by scientific results and how the facility it self is built and operated.
Setting a new standard for how research infrastructures are managed over their lifecycle is an important development for the future.