Research & Development

Do you have an idea focused on energy, sustainability or wellness which is not addressed in the current market place and need some technical and market expertise to bring it to market?

At Lawler Sustainability, R&D activities are part of our core strategy, being actively engaged in European R&D projects and proposals since 2017. With a strong market presence for over 40 years we are uniquely positioned to deliver innovation services that can assist your business in bridging the gap between research and market.

What we can offer to our clients:

  • Feasibility studies & Business Case validation
  • Testing of new products
  • Technical validation of supplier information

Research Projects

What we can offer to our research partners:

  • Strong technical knowledge of energy consumption in the built environment
  • Experience on the commercial and contractual aspect of building renovation
  • Development of innovative business models
  • Ability to provide a wide range of demonstration sites
  • Extensive web of potential partners from various backgrounds
  • In-house detailed energy modelling expertise
  • Energy audits and monitoring

Previous Projects

NOVICE was a Horizon 2020 project that had the goal of developing an innovative business model for energy service companies (ESCOs) that will provide energy savings to buildings and Demand Response (DR) services to the grid after the renovation allowing for shorter renovation payback times. [Read More>]

Theme areas we are currently researching

The energy sector is at the crossroads of a revolution that will dramatically change the way energy is consumed in buildings. 40% of EU’s carbon emissions come from the building sector – our inefficient building stock is our first and main hurdle to a sustainable future.

Increasing distributed and intermittent renewable generation is placing great stress on the energy sector and buildings are moving away from being passive elements, to active, with a role in balancing the grid. Energy consumers will therefore be more empowered than ever!

At Lawler Sustainability we are witnessing these challenges from a front row seat, actively engaged in being part of that revolution. We have been involved in R&D activities since 2017 and we are uniquely positioned to tackle the future challenge with innovative and market-ready solutions.

Demand Response

In the electricity grid, the power flow must be constant and in order to avoid grid congestion and blackouts, consumption needs to match supply at all times. In the traditional energy world dominated by thermal power production, supply could be controlled by ramping up or down power plants to match the energy demand. Nowadays, these generation plants are being replaced by intermittent renewable generation, where we cannot fully control the output. For example, a cloud may pass by lowering the output of a PV array or the wind may blow softer affecting wind turbines. In this new scenario, where we are losing control over the production, the flexibility on the demand side will be more valued.

We are therefore witnessing the rise of smaller energy consumers in commercial, and even residential buildings, looking at a Demand Response model. Demand Response is a service energy consumers provide to the grid, that consists of turning on or off their energy equipment, responding to signals coming from the grid, in order to keep the electricity grid balanced. These services are valued by the grid through monetary payments. This concept represents a new potential revenue stream for Lawler Sustainability’s clients and we have been conducting research on how to integrate them in our traditional services – see NOVICE project.

E-mobility / V2G (Vehicle to Grid)

As of 2020 there are about 17,000 EVs on Irish roads and 349,600 in the UK. In 2030, according to Ireland’s Climate Action Plan, the number of EVs will have grown to 950,000, meaning that about one third of all vehicles sold during the next decade will be electric or plug-in hybrids. In the UK, it is expected that, by the same year, 69% of all passenger cars sold will be electric.

In 2030, if all Irish EVs are plugged in at the same time, an additional power demand of about 20GW (assuming 22kW charging) will be experienced. This paradigm shift in transportation will place the national electric grid under significant stress. However, thanks to V2G, electric vehicles can actually be the key to balancing the grid.

V2G (Vehicle to Grid) refers to the ability of the EV and its charger to export power back to the grid. In hours of higher energy demand the EV is able to inject into the grid part of the energy it had stored, with the vehicle owner financially compensated. The same way, the vehicle can recharge once demand is lower and energy is cheaper.

At Lawler Sustainability we envision V2G technology as a certain element of the future energy sector, as it will provide the much-needed storage and flexibility capacity the grid needs to allow for an increasing integration of renewables in the power mix.

Energy Storage

With a deeper integration of renewable generation, either at a grid-scale or distributed power generation, the need for energy storage increases. As opposed to conventional thermal power plants, the output of a wind farm or a PV array cannot just be ramped up or down. Renewable generation might be producing more energy than we are consuming at that moment and vice-versa. Energy storage bridges that gap, by storing the excess energy produced for later use.

In the commercial and residential sectors, we see a growing business case for electric battery storage. Mainly driven by the race for the EV space, battery costs have been significantly declining and are expected to keep doing so across the next decade. Simultaneously, we are witnessing significant technology improvements when it comes to energy density, lifetime, charge and discharge power, reliability and safety.

For Lawler Sustainability’s clients, battery storage allows them to save the excess energy produced by on-site for later use and to provide a flexible service to the grid, either by taking advantage of Time of Use tariffs or participating in fast frequency balancing services.

Optimal energy management enabled by IoT and Big Data technologies.

The advancements in the field of IoT (Internet of Things) and big data analytics are revolutionizing several fields, and the energy sector is no exception.

Energy management systems are not something new, but the introduction of disruptive technologies will allow us to take automated energy management of the so-called smart buildings to a new level! Smart buildings will be able to optimise the energy consumption in the building taking into account occupancy pattern, inferring users’ preferences for an optimal comfort, predictive algorithms based on the weather forecast and interacting with the grid to take advantage of the available electricity tariffs, participate in DR schemes or trade energy with neighbouring buildings.

The European Union is also at the forefront of the digitalisation of buildings and, in the latest Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, it suggested the creation of a Smart Readiness Indicator (SRI) that will rate the building’s ability to be smartly monitored and controlled and get involved in demand-side management strategies. Work is currently being conducted in creating the SRI and we, at Lawler Sustainability, are attentively tracking its development.

Energy Communities/P2P trading

The last decade has seen a great uptake of the concept of self-consumption as PV became an increasingly affordable technology. This way, energy consumers now have access to cheaper electricity prices. However, the output of a PV panel cannot be controlled, so what happens when production is greater than demand? Currently, surplus energy is injected back into the grid at zero, or an insignificant price. That is poised to change in the coming years.

In the Clean Energy For All European Package, the EU has introduced two concepts that will bring greater consumer empowerment:

  1. Collective self-consumption is defined as a group of at least two self-consumers, located in the same building or block of buildings, that can share energy produced amongst themselves. This way, surplus energy can be shared or sold between neighbours. P2P trading, enabled by blockchain technology, has a way to execute these trades without the need for an intermediary.
  2. Renewable energy communities are legal entities, composed of natural persons, SMEs or local authorities, that own and develop renewable projects. All shareholders must belong to the same community and its primary purpose is to provide environmental, economic or social benefits to the community rather than financial profits.

It is still unclear the exact shape these concepts will take, but by June 30th 2021 all EU Member States must have had transposed these provisions into national legislation. In Lawler Sustainability we are closely tracking these developments.

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