Electrifying the future

Our reliance on electricity means that we expect it to be available on demand. At the same time we want to cut greenhouse gas emissions drastically. Electrifying the future is about unlocking the third generation of wind power and living the future today with smart grids.

Through new technology applications, services, and operations smart grids improve reliability and security of supply, and facilitate the integration of renewables. Smart grids empower end-users to manage consumption and costs and create a prosumer generation: consumers producing electricity.

New order

A new order

The challenges for our future energy system

The world of energy is changing. There is a global urge to drastically reduce CO2 emissions in order to slow down global warming. 

Nations are reducing their dependency on imported fossil fuels by stimulating energy savings and the use of renewable energy. 

Sustainable sources, such as solar and wind energy, are not always available. Integrating large shares of renewable energy in our current energy supply system in a reliable way provides a real challenge. 

Our energy use is shifting towards electricity. This trend is accelerated by the fast growing fleet of electric vehicles and the increase of electric space heating and cooling. The electrification of our energy use adds to the challenges that our future energy supply system faces.

A need to democratize the energy market

Energy communities that locally produce sustainable electricity and aim to become energy self-sufficient are booming. 

These groups of local consumers and producers, or “prosumers”, are becoming more and more important players in our energy supply. To be able to cater for their energy feed-in needs, be it electricity, natural gas or even heat, current distribution grids will need to transform into fully bidirectional systems. 

Our current energy value chain however is based on a top down approach, with energy flowing from plant to consumer. It was not designed with two-way traffic in mind nor prepared for the introduction of new market roles such as aggregators and energy service companies. 

A ‘new order’ in energy supply is therefore needed that optimally matches the changing context of our society.

Energy flows
Overview of existing (blue) and new (red) upcoming assets and energy flows in our energy system.
Market roles in liberalized energy markets.
Smart grids

How smart grids help

Creating flexible energy infrastructures

To enable large scale use of sustainable energy and the optimal use of different energy sources and energy qualities, as well as to enable local energy companies in the market, our current energy system needs to become much more flexible. 

Our energy system must support bi-directional energy flows, energy conversion and storage options, flexible generators and demand response, and remain affordable and reliable, in order to render it future-proof. 

This is where smart energy systems can help. By adding an intelligent IT infrastructure to existing energy infrastructures, a new energy market can be established that allows energy to be traded locally. By providing greater insight in and control over energy flows, a smart energy system provides benefits for a large variety of stakeholders. 

The added value of smart 

Upgrading a power system to a smart energy system potentially conveys a variety of benefits to different stakeholders: 

Smart for grid operators  

A grid operator can manage peak energy flows in the grid using demand control and by switching dynamically between multi-commodity energy infrastructures. By limiting peak loads at certain hot spots in the grid, large investments in additional transport capacity can be avoided. 

Smart for energy suppliers 

Energy service providers get detailed insight into their customers’ consumption patterns, which can be used to aid trading on the wholesale energy market. These consumption patterns can be influenced using demand response and flexible generators, providing extra trading options. 

Smart for consumers  

For consumers, a smart energy system provides greater control and freedom of choice over their energy use – and production - by enabling a large variety of new energy services. Such energy services may reduce users’ energy costs, enhance their quality of life with home automation, or enable them to join forces in local energy communities.

Upgrading energy infrastructures
Upgrading existing energy infrastructures to smart energy systems can render them future proof, supporting bi-directional energy flows, energy conversion and storage options and new energy services.
Demo city

Living in a real-life smart grid

PowerMatching City is an internationally recognized lighthouse project that demonstrates our future energy system in an existing neighborhood in Groningen, the Netherlands. 

By engaging and empowering the forty participants in becoming active energy prosumers, this project is a typical example of what democratizing the energy market looks like in real life. 

The participants in PowerMatching City are people like you and me. Using a state-of-the art smart energy system, they can control where and when they want to use or produce energy. The fully automated system controls the indoor climate in their homes and charges their electric vehicles on time, providing them with an enhanced level of comfort. 

Central and local energy systems are equally important in this smart city. Multiple stakeholders, including energy suppliers, network operators and consumers, cooperate to actively balance the demand for and supply of energy in the grid. Together they have created a sustainable, reliable and future-proof energy system. 

Showing the added value of smart 

PowerMatching City’s main goal is to show and quantify the added value of a smart energy infrastructure to consumers, energy suppliers, and grid operators. The results of these analyses are used to enable and accelerate a large scale roll-out of smart grids. 

An interactive Energy Monitor was developed to engage and empower the smart citizens. This display not only educates users about their smart appliances and energy use, but is also an integral platform for two new smart energy services. 

The first service enables users to share electricity and create a self-supporting energy community, the second focuses on reducing electricity costs by applying an optimal buying and selling strategy on the local energy market. 

To quantify the effectiveness of the applied smart grid solution in managing peak energy flows in the grid, power consumption is measured at the transformer level. PowerMatching City’s energy supplier has developed new energy services combined with a novel wholesale system based on real-time electricity prices.

Next steps

The Next Steps in Smart

PowerMatching City to the People

PowerMatching City in its current form will be finalized in 2014. 

By then, the added value of a smart infrastructure for different stakeholders in the grid will have been analyzed. The next step is to focus on a large-scale rollout of smart energy systems, building on the solutions and services that have been developed in PowerMatching City. 

This next step, “PowerMatching City to the People,” has already been initiated. The scale of this project is on the order of hundreds of households. The project will make smart energy systems and services commercially available to interested national and international parties in the coming two years. 

Universal Smart Energy Framework 

The Universal Smart Energy Framework (USEF) enables the seamless co-creation of a fully functional smart energy system and provides an open and consistent framework of specifications, designs and implementation guidelines. 

To accelerate the development of commercially viable offerings based on the framework, USEF develops a reference implementation of the framework itself. It allows the development of smart energy products, services and solutions in an unambiguous way. Together these offerings allow the large-scale international deployment of smart grids.

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