Heerhugowaard, 26 August 2015 – Traffic queues are a well-known phenomenon on the Dutch road network. Less well-known are the energy queues that sometimes clog up the electricity network. An experimental energy-saving pilot (‘EnergieKoplopers’) is currently being carried out with two hundred households in Heerhugowaard to find out whether they can help prevent energy queues and make money by making more flexible use of energy.
Renewables cause energy queues
The Netherlands is aiming to generate 16% of its energy from renewables (such as wind and solar) by 2023. These sources are sometimes abundant, sometimes not. This has huge implications for our energy supply. On sunny days, when households generate lots of solar energy without using it – because people are at work or outdoors – energy queues can arise in the grid. By being more flexible and using energy when lots of wind or sun is available locally, households can help to prevent this congestion.
Smart appliance for automatic energy storage and consumption
One residential area where lots of electricity is generated with solar panels is located in the Dutch town Heerhugowaard. 200 households here are connected to a smart energy system that communicates with a smart appliance, such as an electric boiler or heat pump, in their homes. The energy system forecasts the supply and demand of electricity. And also indicates how much flexibility is needed to match supply and demand in order to avoid energy queues. The participants can provide this flexibility with the aid of a smart appliance. They can, for instance, use solar energy to heat water in the boiler during the day to enjoy a hot shower in the evening. The participating households don’t need to do anything themselves: the smart system automatically activates the appliance to store or use energy at the right time.
The value of flexibility
Flexible energy usage can yield households savings up to an estimated EUR 100 per year. It reduces the number of energy queues, so that the electricity grid does not need to be expanded as much. This results in substantial savings in the grid which the energy supplier can pass on to households in the future. Within the experimental pilot, the financial benefit is divided among the 200 participating households every month.
The experimental pilot with 200 households is an initiative of Alliander, Essent, ICT (ICT Automation), NRG031 and the Municipality of Heerhugowaard. The project is being subsidised with a grant from the government’s Innovation Programme Intelligent Networks (IPIN). The outcomes will provide insight into how more flexible strategies can help to grow sustainable energy and keep the electricity grid reliable at the lowest possible costs, while also indicating the potential savings for households. The flexible energy system is set up according to the principles of the Universal Smart Energy Framework (USEF).