Energy use in buildings accounts for approximately 40% of EU energy consumption. Due to this high energy use, one of the three main targets proposed by the European Economy Recovery Plan in 2008 is "to encourage Energy-efficient buildings, to promote green technologies and to develop energy efficient systems and materials in new and renovated buildings with a view to reducing radically their energy consumption and CO2 emissions". In order to achieve these objectives, drastic measures are required.
The improvement of energy efficiency of conventional generation technologies is not sufficient and a high proportion of energy demand supplied by renewable energy sources is essential. Taking into consideration that heat demand can represent up to 60-70% of total amount of energy consumption in a residential building, heating system based on Seasonal Thermal Energy Storage (STES) concept is currently the most promising technology able to fulfil the objectives established in Europe about energy efficiency in a short term. The fact that the concepts developed within this project are based on innovative adaptation of existing technology is a remarkable aspect, as it makes possible the development of nearly zero energy buildings (one of the objectives of EPBD directive) at short time.
The overall objective of the project is the development, evaluation and demonstration of a low energy heating system based on Seasonal Thermal Energy Storage (STES) systems in combination with Heat Pumps for space heating and domestic hot water (DHW) requirements for existing buildings to drastically reduce energy consumption in buildings.
The integration between STES system and heat pumps is one of the main breakthroughs of the EINSTEIN project. STES systems are known in northern Europe and heat pump technology is known and used all over the world, but the integration between these two systems is not optimized. An appropriate heat pump does not exist, neither an evaluation tool for this integration design. Within the EINSTEIN project, both barriers will be overcome.