Buildings connected to district heating can be part of a virtual, distributed heat accumulator with intelligent control. These local small thermal storages appear to the district heating company as one large, virtual thermal battery that can be charged and discharged by the operator in the same way as a large water tank heat battery.
A distributed thermal storage system works like a virtual power plant in electrical systems. In this way, a district heating company can increase its virtual battery capacity with a relatively small investment without owning any physical storage.
The distributed thermal storages can be managed remotely with devices connected to the Internet of Things. Its advantages include low investment costs, predictive maintenance and efficient use of space. A distributed thermal storage in a district-heated property is a substantial heat accumulator.
The heat accumulator charges and discharges into the structures according to the change in room air temperature, enabling a short-term heat storage of about a few hours.
When radiators increase power, the room air heats up first due to lower thermal capacity. Thereafter, thermal energy is slowly transferred into structures of the room, such as the walls, floor, and ceiling.
Correspondingly, as the power of the radiators decreases, the room structures slowly transfer thermal energy into the room air while maintaining a constant temperature.