Project Pilots

The SMARTrenew partners are developing ongoing pilot initiatives aimed at increasing renewable energy in their regions. 

The pilot action of SMARTrenew partners, Donegal County Council, a local authority, aims at the improvement of energy efficiency and heating system in a municipal Public Services Centre and community library in County Donegal, Northwest Ireland. 

Under the SMARTrenew pilot, Donegal County Council has installed:

  • 3 No. 42.6 kW air-source heat pumps to replace oil boilers
  • 20 photo-voltaic solar panel to generate 6 kW of electricity
  • Pumped cavity bead insulation to 800m2 of external walls
  • New efficient heating controls


Good practice would dictate that the heating load is first reduced before providing alternative means of heating. The improved wall insulation and heating controls were therefore applied to reduce the load. The use of the heat pumps removes oil from the site and the solar panels add a renewable energy generation.

Heat Pumps

3 no. 42.6 kW air-source heat pumps have been installed to meet the heating needs of the building. Heat pumps use refrigeration technology to provide heat efficiently so that each kWh of electricity used delivers 3 to 4 kWh of heat. A separate smaller 5 kW heat pump has been installed to provide domestic hot water. As a result, two 200 kW oil boilers have been replaced by 133 kW capacity in heat pumps, a reduction of two thirds. These units have built-in variable speed control so that capacity can adjust continuously to suit loads, thus reducing energy waste. They also adjust to outdoor temperature and use even less kWh electricity for each kWh of heat delivered when conditions are milder.

Solar Panels

An array of 20 photo-voltaic solar panels has been installed on the roof of the Public Services Centre. These can generate 6 kW of electricity at peak and would be expected to reduce the need for imported electricity by about 11% before the upgrades. Improved insulation NSAI Agreement certified pumped cavity bead insulation has been applied to over 800m2 of external walls to reduce the heat loss through the walls by almost 50%.

Heating Controls

A new building management system together with modern efficient variable speed heating circuit pumps and controls was installed. This allows more responsive operation with resultant savings as equipment adjusts better to meet changing conditions such as weather conditions or building occupancy.

Overall Benefits

  • Reduction in total primary energy for site of over 40%
  • Reduction in CO2 emissions on site of more than 50%
  • Reduction in energy costs
  • Reduced environmental management risk due to removal of oil from the site
  • Reduced maintenance of heat pumps compared to oil boilers
  • Renewed assets at start of expected operating life to support functioning of building and service
  • Improved building comfort
  • Experienced gained in upgrades can be applied to other Donegal County Council facilities to further decarbonise


For further information contact Peadar Espey pespey{at} 

SMARTrenew partner, Donegal County Council, installed 32no. photo-voltaic solar panels to the 3rd floor roof area of the County House, it’s main headquarters in Lifford, Co. Donegal as part of their project pilot. Donegal County Council is a local authority responsible for local government in County Donegal, in the northwest of Ireland. 

This pilot is in addition to the 36no. photo-voltaic panels installed in 2019.

“Solar PV converts energy from sunlight into electricity” explains Peadar Espey, Facilities Manager and DCC Energy Team Member with Donegal County Council.

The installation of these additional solar panels is part of an overall drive by Doneagl County Council to achieve energy performance improvements throughout all their premises. The combined County House solar PV system will generate approximately 16,700 kilo Watt hours (kWh) of electricity per annum.

“When the days are longer and brighter from April to September the installation has the potential to generate over 120 kWh per day” explains Peadar Espey.

This initiative is part of the Councils ongoing drive to improve energy performance throughout its operations and is in line with its ISO 50001 accredited Energy Management System which was first achieved in October 2016 and has been retained following a number of extensive independent audits.

“The use of this type renewable energy will assist Donegal County Council in achieving energy efficiency by 50% by 2030 under the national Climate Action Plan 2019” concludes Peadar Espey.

For further information contact Peadar Espey 

SMARTrenew partner, Orkusetur, is an energy agency partnership with the National Energy Authority of Iceland. 

A design concept for heat extraction from cold sea, down to 1°C, was developed by Orkusetur, for the town of Seyðisfjörður (Seydisfjordur), East Iceland, involving in later stages a hybrid heat pump and wood pellet system. Due to considerations for a geothermal pipeline through a road tunnel that has been put forward in time, the concept for Seydisfjordur was generalized for towns with similar external conditions.

SMARTrenew Iceland soon shifted to the Island of Grímsey (Grimsey), north from Iceland and belonging to the municipality of Akureyri (North Iceland), where the Iceland project partners are physically located.

The Grimsey islanders (61 inhabitants) still use oil for electricity generation and heating purposes. Due to the distance from mainland Iceland, Grimsey is not connected to the renewable electricity grid, and has to use diesel electric generators.

SMARTrenew has selected wind turbines, solar and battery solutions (refurbished electric vehicle battery) that will integrate with the existing diesel system. This marks a firm step towards green energy on the island. A full replacement of diesel power will be achieved under the SMARTrenew pilot, where several hundred kW wind turbines are implemented together with water heaters and electrical batteries, providing the required power load and energy storage (heat and electric storage).

The wind-solar-battery SMARTrenew pilot solution, integrates into the existing energy system and provides a path towards a fully renewable society on the island and thereby eliminating the final ‘black spot’ in the otherwise renewable energy system in Iceland.

Overall electric energy production in Iceland is 19.828.868 MWh. The corresponding production in Grimsey is 795 MWh, or 0.004 %. Although small, there is a need replace it.

Pilot Achievements 

  • Analyzed energy use and proposed heating solutions for Seydisfjordur
  • Analyzed energy use in Grimsey and proposed renewable energy solutions
  • Visited Pilot Point in Alaska to learn about a 2x100 kW wind turbine project for a community of similar size as Grimsey
  • Participated in re-writing government contract for energy supply in Grimsey – a prerequisite for the addition of renewable energy to the existing diesel generation system
  • Collaborated with the local power company Fallorka on installations of project solutions; 2x6 kW wind turbine, 10 kW solar panels and 24 kWh refurbished EV battery
  • Involved stakeholders around the country and provided a path forward for rural communities in Iceland

For further information contact Ragnar Ásmundsson rka{at} or Sigurður Friðleifsson sif{at} 

This historic Harbour House sandstone building (Image 1) located in Derry City, was built in 1882, and was originally used as the Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioner’s Headquarters. The building is now owned by Derry City and Strabane District Council and is used as office space for democratic services administration within the council.

The Challenge

The building is heated with natural gas and although there is some level of thermostatic control of heating within the building, the heating costs are in the region of £8,000 per annum. An energy audit carried out in November 2018 highlighted inefficient control of heating zones and increased thermal energy use. The issue for council was how it could improve heating control within the building without disrupting the building fabric.

Existing Radiator Controls

TRV - Thermostatic Radiator Valve used within the Harbour House Building. (Image 2)

BMS control screen located in the basement of an adjacent building. Settings can be adjusted but there is no graphical representation of the building zones and rooms within this system at this control point. (Image 3)

The Solution

Derry City and Strabane Council have worked with Heatboss to come up with an innovative wireless enabled smart heating system that suits the individual requirements of this building.

Heatboss is an innovative technology that tackles the issues with conventional heating controls – for example, in Harbour House, the current control strategy typically heats areas not in use, and has one target temperature with the same on/off times for multiple rooms. Such control systems encourage overheating which was originally highlighted during the 2018 energy audit.

Heatboss wireless devices and web applications enable room level control of heating, which is accessible securely and remotely from any web enabled device. This enables better efficiency, comfort and control of heating large buildings. Ultimately, this leads to a significant reduction in energy consumption with reported energy savings of approximately 30% in other historic buildings. Heatboss is very sympathetic to the needs of heritage buildings such as Harbour House – the retrofit installation process and the wireless nature of the product ensures that the building fabric is never disturbed.

The Harbour House solution uses the existing zone valves and maximises their effectiveness by requesting heat in each zone as and when required to the target temperature of the zone which accurately reflects how the building is used. This can be easily and remotely adjusted by a web app rather than manual adjustment or changes to the BMS which is currently located in another building adjacent to Harbour House.

The Wireless Repeater replaces the existing thermostatic radiator valve. This enables independent control of each zone. (Image 4)

The hub monitors and manages all the wireless communications throughout the building and links all the devices together. The hub is linked to the cloud so that all the heating can be managed securely from any web enabled device. (Image 5)

The Thermostat monitors ambient temperature and relative humidity levels and communicates data wirelessly back to the hub. (Image 6)

The zone controller controls central heating and hot water by controlling the boiler zones. It can integrate with an existing Building Management System. It turns the boiler / zone off when all rooms are at their target temperatures and on again when rooms demand it. (Image 7)

The Web App allows designated and trained users to monitor and control the buildings heat from anywhere. Users can easily schedule each zone and room’s on and off times and target temperatures. (Image 8)

The council expect to have the system installed and commissioned early 2021. The energy usage will then be monitored and analysed using the ‘Wattics’ system – a cloud based real time energy management programme.

Image 1: Harbour House
Image 2: Existing Controls
Image 3: Existing Controls
Image 4: Heatboss Contols
Image 5: Heatboss Controls
Image 6: Heatboss Controls
Image 7: Heatboss Conrols
Image 8: Heatboss Controls

Under project SMARTrenew, Oulu University of Applied Sciences, together with Evo, is piloting a major heat storage solution for district heating in Kuusamo, Finland with the installation of a 500m3 heat storage tank.

EVO is the water and energy co-operative that is responsible for district heating, water treatment and clean water distribution in Kuusamo.

In the downtown area, the district heating is produced at the Toranki CHP plant and in the Ruka area at the Ruka biopower plant. When the CHP and biopower plants cannot generate enough heat to cover the needs of the entire customer base, EVO needs to use its oil burning, auxiliary, heat-only boilers to generate the needed additional heat.

To solve this problem, EVO, in cooperation with Oulu University of Applied Sciences, under SMARTrenew, is building a 500m3 heat storage to be connected to the district heating network. Utilizing this heat storage solution, EVO could reduce its need to use oil for additional heating.

In the current district heating system in Kuusamo, the main plant produces the required heat using mainly wood based fuel. During very cold weather the heat production from the main plant is not enough to match the heat demands and auxiliary systems are being used. The auxiliary systems are operated with oil based fuel.

The SMARTrenew pilot aims to replace auxiliary oil systems with renewable, heat storage solutions.

Energy Consumption, Efficiency, Cost Before Installation:

Energy consumption is dependent on the clients of the district heating network. Kuusamo, situated in northern Ostrobothnia, in north east Finland has a population of over 15,000 people. Ruka, the second biggest ski destination in Finland, is situated in Kuusamo creating its own share of heating demand.

Smart Energy/Heat Storage Innovation:

A calculator is being developed to help optimize usage of the heat storage. The calculator tool “predicts” hourly power demands by the network along with the highest peaks in power demand. This data can then be used by the operator to optimize the use of the storage. The calculator has been presented to the pilot partner and is waiting for the next step in development to integrate with their systems. The calculator brings a “smart component” to the heat storage.

Energy/Heat Consumption After Pilot Installation:

Pilot installation won’t affect energy consumption/demand. The goal of the pilot is to shift the current oil fueled energy production into energy produced by renewable fuels.

A student project group made calculations based on EVO energy production history. In July 2019, the CHP plant in Kuusamo produced 365 MWh heat energy with oil-based fuel, of which 222 MWh could have been covered with the use of the planned heat storage solution.

If one MWh of oil costs approximately 85 euros and renewable fuels used in CHP plant cost approximately 22 euros per MWh the heat storage could have saved EVO almost 14,000 euros in July alone. Such heating storage system brings significant gains both financially and environmentally since using renewable fuel is considered CO2 free.

Heat storage system also functions as a backup in case of power plant or pipeline failures thus making the district heating network more stable. The heat storage also functions as “customer” for the CHP at times when electricity market prices are high.

Alternatively Comparison with Similar Buildings or Scenarios:

Kuopion Energia, an energy company in Kuopio has stated that their heat storage system brought them 1 million euros worth of savings in its first year of operation. Their heat storage is significantly bigger but functions similarly and has many synergies with the SMARTrenew Kuusamo pilot.