Artificial intelligence to optimise Åland school heating

Source: press release, 5 November 2019

Smart Energy Åland – to demonstrate a society based on 100% renewable electricity, Flexens will work actively to promote further investments in renewable generation capacity and decarbonising the heating and transportation systems
Smart Energy Åland – to demonstrate a society based on 100% renewable electricity, Flexens will work actively to promote further investments in renewable generation capacity and decarbonising the heating and transportation systems (photo: Flexens)

As a part of Flexens’ Smart Energy Åland project, a high-tech temperature control system is to be installed in Vikingaåsen elementary school in the municipality Jomala, located on the Åland Islands.

“Using artificial intelligence (AI) the heating can be predicted and optimised for each individual room,” says Markku Makkonen, CEO of the Finnish company Fourdeg.

The system “Fourdeg Smart Heat” will be installed in Vikingaåsens school during November by replacing the traditional thermostats with new ones that can communicate via WiFi.

By using weather reports and collecting data, the AI heating system will learn how the different rooms in the school building responds to various weather conditions, when and how long these rooms are used. The results of the pilot project will be carefully scaled up and Jim Häggblom, project manager at Flexens, hopes there will be several positive effects.

“We’re hoping to see that the AI-heating system will optimise working conditions for everyone at the school, increasing the children’s learning ability and the staff’s welfare. Furthermore, with an even temperature in the buildings, the heating costs are significantly reduced. The system allows for more effective troubleshooting and maintenance is simplified based on diagnoses that the system can provide. Energy efficiency and optimisation, such as these smart controls that increases energy flexibility, are central to the future energy system that Flexens is working to creating,” says Häggblom.

The system received the WWF’s “Climate Solver” award in 2018 – a prize awarded to technology and business models that can lead to sharply reduced carbon dioxide emissions. Heating of buildings is a major source of carbon dioxide emissions, so new solutions that can reduce energy consumption in larger buildings are sought in the world market.

The fact that the new technology is being tested in Jomala is part of Flexen’s initial demo platform – Smart Energy Åland. Häggblom says it all started with that the Jomala municipality contacted Flexens inquiring if there was any project within Smart Energy Åland that would be possible to implement within the municipality’s current infrastructure.

“We have several global, cutting edge technology companies within RES [renewable energy sources] in our network, eager to demonstrate their RES solutions. Fourdeg is one of these. They were looking for a suitable building complex and with the help of Flexens were matched with the municipality’s technical director, Magnus Nordin, concluded that Vikingaåsen’s elementary school was the obvious choice.

Markku Makkonen, CEO of Fourdeg, says, “We look forward of being a part of creating next-generation high-quality energy ecosystems, developing Åland’s energy supply, and delivering total solutions that have significant export potential.”