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This is the 22st episode of a series 25 building blocks to create better streets, neighbourhoods, and cities. Its topic is the way how the quality of the living environment benefits from reducing the contrast between urban and rural areas.
Photos from space show a sharp contrast between city and countryside. Urban areas are predominantly gray; rural areas turn green, yellow, and brown, but sharp contrasts are also visible within cities between densely built-up neighborhoods and parks. Even between neighborhoods there are sometimes sharp transitions.
The division between city and country
Large and medium-sized cities on the one hand and rural areas on the other are worlds apart in many respects and local government in municipalities would like to keep it that way. For a balanced development of urban and rural areas, it is much better if mutual cohesion is emphasized, that their development takes place from a single spatial vision and (administrative) organization and that there are smooth transitions between both. The biggest mistake one can made is regarding the contrast between city and country as a contradiction between city and nature. Where large-scale agriculture predominates in the rural area, the remaining nature has a hard time. Where nature-inclusive construction takes place in cities, biodiversity is visibly increasing.
The idea that urban and rural areas should interpenetrate each other is not new. At the time, in Amsterdam it was decided to retain several wedges and to build garden villages. Some of the images in the above collage show such smooth transitions between urban and rural areas: Eko Park, Sweden (top right), Abuja, Nigeria (bottom left), and Xion'an, China (bottom center). The latter two are designs by SOM, an international urban design agency that focuses on biophilic designs.
Pulling nature into the city
Marian Stuiver is program leader Green Cities of Wageningen Environmental Research at WUR. In her just-released book The Symbiotic City, she describes the need to re-embed cities in soil, water and living organisms. An interesting example is a design by two of her students, Piels and Çiftçi, for the urban expansion of Lelystad. The surrounding nature continues into the built-up area: soil and existing waterways are leading; buildings have been adapted accordingly. Passages for animals run between and under the houses (see photo collage, top left). Others speak of rewilding. In this context, there is no objection to a small part of the countryside being given a residential destination. Nature benefits!
Restoration of the rural area
The threat to nature does not come from urban expansion in the first place, but mainly from the expansion of the agricultural area. Don't just think immediately of the clearing of tropical rain woods to produce palm oil. About half of the Dutch land area is intended for cows. Usually, most of them are stabled and the land is mainly used to produce animal feed.
The development of large-scale industrialized agriculture has led to the disappearance of most small landscape features, one of the causes of declining biodiversity. Part of the Climate Agreement on 28 June 2019 was the intention to draw up the Aanvalsplan landschapselementen . Many over-fertilized meadows and fields that are intended to produce animal feed in the Netherlands were once valuable nature reserves. Today they value from a biodiversity point of view is restricted and they are a source of greenhouse gases. Nature restoration is therefore not primarily focusses at increasing the wooded area. Most of the land can continue to be used for agricultural and livestock farming, provided that it is operated in a nature-inclusive manner. The number of farmers will then increase rather than decrease.
Pulling the city into nature
There are no objections against densification of the city as long this respects the green area within the city. So-called vertical forests by no means make up for the loss of greenery. Moreover, space is needed for urban agriculture and horticulture (photo collage, top center), offices, crafts, and clean industry as part of the pursuit of complete districts. Nature in the Netherlands benefits if one to two percent of the land that is currently used to produce animal feed is used for housing, embedded in a green-blue infrastructure. Some expansion and densification also apply to villages, which as a result are once again developing support for the facilities, they saw disappearing in recent decades.
Finally, I mentioned earlier that nature is more than water, soils, plants, and trees. Biophilic architects also draw nature into the built environment by incorporating analogies with natural forms into the design and using natural processes for cooling and healthy air. The 'Zandkasteel' in Amsterdam is still an iconic example (photo collage, bottom right).
Follow the link below to find an overview of all articles.
Spectral, a pioneer in the integration of energy and information technologies and a highly impactful scale-up in the energy sphere, is excited to announce a major turning point in its expansion. Spectral has successfully secured an investment from ABN AMRO’s Sustainable Impact Fund (SIF). The fund invests in impact-driven companies seeking both social and financial returns. The investment will primarily be used to scale and professionalize operations.
We invite you to contribute to the conference "Reinventing the City 2024 - Blueprints for messy cities?"
Deadline to submissions: November 14, 2023
Notification of acceptance: December 14, 2023
The AMS Scientific Conference (AMS Conference) explores and discusses how cities can transform themselves to become more livable, resilient and sustainable while offering economic stability. In the second edition of “Reinventing the City” (23-25 April 2024), the overarching theme will be <em>"</em>Blueprints for messy cities? Navigating the interplay of order and complexity'. In three captivating days, we will explore 'The good, the bad, and the ugly' (day 1), 'Amazing discoveries' (day 2) and 'We are the city' (day 3).
Call for abstracts
The AMS Conference seeks to engage scientists, policymakers, students, industry partners, and everyone working with and on cities from different backgrounds and areas of expertise. We therefore invite you to submit your scientific paper abstract, idea for a workshop or special session with us. Submissions should be dedicated to exploring the theme ‘Blueprints for messy cities?’. We especially invite young, urban rebels to raise their voice, as they are the inhabitants of our future cities.
Our scientific committee responsible for the content of the conference program will assess all submissions and select a final program of contributions. Notification of acceptance will follow before 1 December 2023.
mobility | circularity | energy transition | climate adaptation | urban food systems | digitization | diversity | inclusion | living labs | transdisciplinary research
SUBMISSIONS AND CONTRIBUTIONS
| SCIENTIFIC PAPER ABSTRACTS |
We invite academics, industry partners, and professionals from all ages engaged in the related fields of urban design, governance, architecture, data science, engineering and/or sociology to submit an abstract for a conference presentation of your scientific paper (250-450 words).
| WORKSHOPS |
If you have a workshop proposal, please outline its purpose, the specific knowledge, techniques, or practices it covers, its objectives and learning outcomes, teaching strategies and resources, target audience, and any prerequisites, including the required level of experience (250-450 words).
| SPECIAL SESSIONS |
Next to scientific papers and workshops, we encourage you to submit different types of special sessions. These special sessions can include interactive forums, excursions, or practical demonstrations, depending on the subject and objectives. When submitting your proposal for a special session, we ask you to clearly highlight the session's objectives, expected collaborators (if applicable), the intended audience, and the type of session. Please also indicate whether you prefer an online or in-person format. Please note that you will be responsible for the content and organization of the session (250-450 words).
Click here to visit the event page and find more information on details about the Scientific Conference.
Africa is the fasted growing continent on the planet, measured both in GDP as in population, which historically is accompanied with a growth in energy consumption. With an eye on the Paris Agreement and COP26 it is clear the energy should be Low or even Zero Emission. However, it is important this does not stifle the economic growth allowing millions to climb out of poverty. With this in mind the EU funded the SESA project that aims at mitigating climate change while improving access to sustainable energy under affordable, reliable conditions.
SESA is a four-year (2021-2025) EU H2020 funded R&D project designed to combine innovative energy access solutions for a range of applications in both urbanised and rural contexts in Africa. These solutions will include decentralised renewables (solar photovoltaics), innovative energy storage systems (including second life batteries), waste-to-energy systems (biomass to biogas), smart microgrids, (micro) mobility solutions, climate-proofing, resilience and adaptation, and rural internet access.
SESA focusses on testing, validating and replicating those energy innovations through co-developed demonstration actions in 9 sites across the continent (1 Living Lab for testing, 4 for validation and 4 for replication).
The collaborative project is the result of a strong partnership between leading European and African universities, research centres, industry actors, local governments, knowledge and implementation organizations and networks.
The main goal of SESA is to support a diversity of affordable solutions that help provide access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy services for all, creating new business opportunities and developing concepts that can directly contribute to a low-carbon development. It further provides policy makers with recommendations aiming at creating a favourable regulatory environment to ensure long-term impacts of the solutions developed. In addition, a key deliverable for the project is the SESA Toolbox, which will contain materials relating to the following main building blocks:
- Impact assessment
- Capacity building
- Business plans and models
- Innovations tested in demonstration actions
- Design, operations and management for different solutions
- Financing & funding options
- Policy support
Cenex NL’s key contributions
Cenex NL leads the work package responsible for the development of the key repository of the project, the so called “SESA Toolbox”, and the evaluation of the project results available in the toolbox. Our team will be involved in three tasks:
- Build a scalable and harmonised toolbox for advanced implementation, management and operation strategies of efficient sustainable energy solutions.
- Develop an evaluation framework based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology to quantify and compare the environmental impacts of the proposed solutions.
- Assess the impact of the solutions developed in at least five the demonstration and validation projects using the framework developed in the previous task.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation progamme under grant agreement No 101037141
On June 6, Flexiblepower Alliance Network (FAN) and TKI Urban Energy are hosting the second webinar in the 2023 series of the Smart Energy Community: "Energy Communities and other collective solutions" (in Dutch).
Opening and update on the activities of Flexiblepower Alliance Network (FAN) by Adriaan van Eck, chairman of FAN.
Starting an Energy community, but how?
If you want to set up an energy community, where should you start? How do you organise an energy cooperation? Thijs Huls from the energy community Agem, in the Achterhoek, discusses what it takes to start an Energy community in terms of data, agreements and platforms and will explain how you can make an energy community really smart about their energy.
Power pitch: Groendus
Energy communities are not just for consumers, energy cooperations can also benefit businesses and entrepreneurs. René Raaijmakers of Groendus will tell us more about the opportunities for businesses to engage collectively in energy communities.
Power pitch: BAM
Within the innovation project TROEF, BAM is developing an energy-as-service concept. Marco Thijssen of BAM will explain more about the community platform that is part of TROEF and how they use gamification to encourage users to pursue their common goal.
Guide to Smart Energy Systems
Richard de Bruin of Rebel Group presents the Smart Energy Systems Guide, a report the Rebel Group developed on behalf of TKI Urban Energy. Richard will take us through the approach and considerations involved, taking three perspectives: energy hubs, business parks and energy communities.
As DRIFT, we’re noticing that changemakers in the energy transition are currently facing challenges that we could only dream of years ago – or that kept us up at night. In this question hour, you get to ask transition experts Gijs Diercks and Noortje Flinkenflögel all sorts of questions about the energy transition in general and our course Versnelling van de Energietransitie in particular.
Biedt jouw bedrijf een innovatieve en duurzame oplossing voor de gebouwde omgeving? En maakt expansie naar Duitsland deel uit van jouw internationale strategie? Maak dan van deze gelegenheid gebruik om meer inzicht te krijgen in de markt, en toekomstige handelspartners te vinden tijdens deze korte inspiratiemissie naar Noordrijn-Westfalen, Duitsland.
Deze Handelsmissie is interessant voor bedrijven die:
- Een innovatieve oplossing bieden voor duurzame gebouwen, stedelijke energiesystemen en/of infrastructuur
- Interesse hebben in, of al actief zijn op, de Duitse markt
- Specifiek verder willen uitbreiden in Noordrijn-Westfalen
Wat kun je verwachten op 8 maart?
Tijdens deze missie krijg je een overzicht van:
- Belangrijke lokale stakeholders en hun rol in de sector
- (Nieuwe) regelgeving omtrent duurzaam bouwen, inclusief financiering
- Tips voor zakendoen in Noordrijn-Westfalen
- Specifieke marktkansen, bijvoorbeeld lopende/toekomstige aanbestedingen, ontwikkelingsprojecten en innovatieprojecten
Daarnaast krijg je inzicht in de huidige stand van zaken in deze regio, door middel van een bezoek aan bouwprojecten in Düsseldorf en Krefeld die hoog scoren op het gebied van duurzaamheid. Tot slot bieden we tijdens deze handelsmissie netwerkmomenten met stakeholders in Noordrijn-Westfalen.
Momenteel wordt gewerkt aan het programma.
Let op: aangezien we op 8 maart vroeg beginnen, dienen deelnemers op 7 maart aan te reizen richting Düsseldorf.
Deze missie wordt georganiseerd door FME in samenwerking met InnovationQuarter, Amsterdam Trade & Innovate, ROM Utrecht Region, en partners in de regio Noordrijn Westfalen.
This final event of the Interreg North-West Europe CleanMobilEnergy (CME) project will be a unique opportunity to understand our road to decarbonisation. Speakers from the CME project and other innovative projects and organisations will share their experiences and learnings regarding realising local energy communities, electric mobility, sustainable heating, energy storage and smart, flexible energy systems (such as V2G) from a range of perspectives including technical, financial, social, governance and legal/policy to paint a holistic picture of the future of the energy system and how we get there.
The 1.5-day conference will feature experiences from the implementation of pilots in Arnhem, Nottingham, Stuttgart and Schwäbisch Gmünd within the CME project as well as real-world implementation learnings from other state-of-the-art projects in the field. In the CME pilots, e-mobility solutions were implemented together with local renewables, storage and an open-source energy management system (the REMove tool) to connect, monitor and optimise the energy flows. By matching local energy needs with local renewables through smart solutions, such a system increases renewable energy's economic value and significantly reduces CO2 emissions. This also contributes to increased energy security and independence of European cities and regions, at a time when the cost of energy has been increasing to record levels throughout Europe.
This event is meant for forward-looking local decision makers (including local and regional governments, community organisations and cooperatives), system integrators, e-mobility providers, renewable energy providers, electricity grid operators and ICT developers, to provide a clear view of how models such as energy communities and energy management tools like ReMove can support organisations, cities and regions in their decarbonisation journeys. The event will be held in English.
Finally, the second day of this event will include a site visit to the CME project’s Arnhem pilot site, where the ReMove tool supports the supply of local renewable energy from a 14MW solar farm to river cruise ships in the maintenance harbour adjacent to the city’s industrial area through a cold ironing (shore-to-ship power) system, as well as other pilots conducted at the IPKW innovative business park such as fuelling of hydrogen vehicles.
Monday, October 31 2022, DeeldeZon and the VER, Vereniging Elektrische Rijders, will jointly organise the 'Battery On Wheels Conference'. A seminar entirely dedicated to V2X: bi-directional charging of electric vehicles.
By charging the battery of an EV with sustainable energy and discharging it to the (local) grid, the electric car becomes an important link in the energy transition. It could also be a promising solution to rising energy costs and grid investments. What are the experiences, best practices, prospects and policies? How do we cleverly respond to this? What will the market look like? And how do we join forces?
You are cordially invited to Battery On Wheels on October 31st!
Ik ben Kyaw Nyunt Linn, momenteel bezig met mijn masterscriptie in MSc. Urban Management and Development (UMD) aan het Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) van de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.
Het doel van dit onderzoek is om de houding ten opzichte van gedecentraliseerde energiesystemen op gemeenschapsniveau te onderzoeken en te begrijpen hoe prosumerisme en vraagrespons kunnen worden gerealiseerd in de energietransitie van Nederland. De resultaten van dit onderzoek kunnen worden gebruikt om beleidsmakers en lokale energie-initiatieven te begeleiden bij het ontwikkelen van hun gemeenschappen en activiteiten met betrekking tot de transitie van hernieuwbare energie op gemeenschapsniveau.
Voor dit onderzoek ben ik op zoek naar mensen die mijn enquête hierover willen invullen.
Het invullen van de enquête duurt ongeveer 7-10 minuten.
Wij verzekeren dat alle verstrekte informatie vertrouwelijk verwerkt wordt en alleen voor academische doeleinden zal worden gebruikt.
Hoe kan het dat de plek waar je geboren bent bepaalt hoeveel je lijdt onder klimaatverandering? De gevolgen van klimaatverandering treffen iedereen op een andere manier. De vergroening van Nederland kan bijvoorbeeld zorgen voor vervuiling elders ter wereld. En gezinnen met een hoger inkomen kunnen zich vaak beter beschermen tegen de negatieve effecten van milieuvervuiling, bijvoorbeeld door luchtfilters aan te schaffen. Daphina Misiedjan (universitair docent, jurist en onderzoeker ISS/Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam) legt in deze lezing uit dat klimaatongelijkheid een wereldwijd probleem is dat op alle niveaus zichtbaar is en wat we kunnen doen om de kloof in te perken.
I am Kyaw Nyunt Linn, currently working on my masters thesis in MSc. Urban Management and Development (UMD) at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam.
The aim of this survey is to explore the attitudes towards decentralised energy systems at the community level and understand how prosumerism and demand response can be realised in the energy transition of the Netherlands. The results of this research may be used to guide policy makers and local energy initiatives in developing their communities and activities regarding the transition of renewable energy at the community level.
It will take about 7-10 minutes to fill out the survey.
In de polder in Schagen werken we in een innovatieve samenwerking aan het zonnepark van de toekomst: De Dijken. Dit park heeft niet alleen de nieuwste PV-panelen, maar ook plek voor mobiele batterijen. Dankzij die batterijen en ons Smart Grid Platform maken we hyperefficiënt gebruik van de beschikbare zonne-energie. In het artikel op onze website lees je meer over deze bijzondere samenwerking en onze ambitieuze toekomstplannen.
Op dinsdag 5 juli, organiseerde de werkgroep slimme energie systemen (SES) van de Provincie Noord-Holland, TenneT en Liander een digitale sessie voor de SES community. Hierin vertelde Liander over congestiemanagement 2.0 en gaf de Provincie inzicht in de aankomende subsidieregeling voor SES projecten.
Updates ontvangen van en/of meedoen aan de community? Mail naar firstname.lastname@example.org
Samen slimmer investeren: daaraan werken Amsterdam Economic Board en Metropoolregio Amsterdam in de ‘Transitieversneller voor de Metropool Amsterdam’. Met dit inspiratiedocument versnellen zij de transities die nodig zijn voor de slimme, groene en gezonde metropool van morgen.
Er zijn acht investeringsthema’s geselecteerd: gezondheidsbevordering en preventie, waterstof, slimme elektriciteit, circulaire bouw, slimme mobiliteit, veilig data delen, artificial intelligence (AI) en een duurzame digitale infrastructuur. Deze thema’s bouwen voort op de kracht van onze regio en zijn in lijn met de financiële mogelijkheden en doelen vanuit Den Haag en Brussel.
Lees het artikel voor meer informatie.
I updated and put together 75 posts and articles about the energy transition in a new e-book (in Dutch) 'Kennisdossier Zonne-energie' (120 pages). If you interested, download it for free with the link below.
The energy transition is in full swing. Besides manpower, it requires a lot of materials, products and infrastructure. Windmills, solar panels, batteries and water pumps contribute fully to this transition, but are still hardly purchased, produced or reused in a circular manner. With the global economy changing and the shortages of raw materials growing, it’s important to look at the materials we use in the energy transition. How can we limit the negative impact of these materials needed for the energy transition?
It's clear that this question is on the minds of several partners. For example, at the Transition Days 2021, the Province of North Holland suggested that a knowledge agenda should be drawn up. In the meantime, our partners AMS Institute and the City of Amsterdam have started a project aimed at the reuse of solar panels in Amsterdam-Southeast and linked this with social issues. Next to that, the companies Pontiflex and Cenex Netherlands (in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences) are focusing on the reuse of wind turbine components in new bridge structures and EV batteries.
On March 17, Amsterdam Smart City organized a work session during the Demoday Circular & Energy so our partners could discuss their input and vision on the importance of a circular energy transition. Some think it's important to have an ''integrated approach to circularity and energy'', others seek further ''stimulus that enables circular reuse of materials''. But if we want to scale up the energy transition circularly, what obstacles and opportunities do we see together? The challenges and obstacles are mapped for the different physical products via the digital tool Miro. Check out the English version of the Miro board here.
The key challenges raised by the participants:
1. Not all procurement procedures allow for circular material use or are limited to steel and concrete. Or requirements and criteria do not match.
2. Local and regional logistics in relation to transport and labor costs.
3. The business case: often a low financial return and therefore less attractive to the market. Practice shows that to be able to experiment, subsidy or other funding is needed.
4. Laws, regulations and certification of circular products stand in the way. Often the same norms and standards must be applied as for new products.
5. Education to encourage a new generation of students to work more with biobased and circular materials in projects
Now that the obstacles are visible, the challenge is to find a common approach. Through a follow-up session, Amsterdam Smart City will invite the partners again to think about the next steps. In the end we need each other to take the circular energy transition one step further.
If you have any thoughts on this topic or have a related question for us, please let us know in the comments or send an email to email@example.com.
The 20th episode of the Better Cities - The contribution of digital technology-series is about electrification, as part of climate adaptation. Based on this theme, both the role of digital technology and the relationship between digital and social innovation will be illustrated.
The Dutch government has dug deep into its pockets to get citizens and companies to cover their roofs with solar panels and to encourage the construction of solar meadows. Favorable tax facilities have been created and a generous so-called ‘salderingsregeling’ has been set up, and with success.
Solar energy and grid overload
Most citizens are very satisfied with solar panels and their impact on the energy bill. So far, no audit office has checked what the government pays for a kilowatt hour of electricity that citizens produce on their roofs. This includes the costs of the aforementioned (tax) facilities and subsidies, as well as the billions in investments in grid reinforcement resulting from the large-scale (re)delivery to the grid of decentral generated energy. In fact, when there is more supply than demand for electricity on the grid, the wholesale price of electricity is negative. In that case, thanks to the ‘salderingsregeling’, the electricity company pays back the full amount and also has to pay(!) companies that buy electricity at that time!
And now? Now the government suffers the consequences and is limiting the growth in the number of solar panels. Many requests for the large-scale generation of solar energy are waiting for a license because the electricity grid in large parts of the Netherlands is overloaded.
There are three ways to solve this problem. The first is to increase the capacity of the high-voltage grid. The second is large-scale storage of electricity, both for the short and the long term. The third is network management. The least elegant solution here is curtailment which means that the capacity of all solar meadows and wind farms is only used for 70%. A better alternative is the construction of smart grids; this is what this article is about. Smart grids have more to do with digitization than with extra cables. *A smart grid is an energy system in which PV panels, electric cars, heat pumps, household appliances, large but also small-scale storage systems and substations are intelligently connected.*However, more attention to energy storage is desperately needed too and high-voltage grid reinforcement will also be inevitable locally.
From centralized to decentralized electricity supply
Electricity infrastructure around the world is designed for centralized electricity generation, characterized by one-way traffic from producer to consumer. Now that many consumers have also become producers ('prosumers') and solar meadows and wind farms are being developed in many places in addition to the usual power plants, the network structure of the future must be decentralized. It will consist of two or three levels. Together, these will ensure a stable system in which much more electricity is used than today. This new structure is at the forefront of development. In 2016, approximately $47 billion was spent worldwide on infrastructure and software to make the electricity system more flexible, integrate renewable energy and better serve customers. The book Promoting Digital Innovations to Advance Clean Energy System (2018) is an excellent overview of these developments. This book can here be downloaded for free.
Most prosumers supply an average of 65% of the generated electricity back to the main grid. Own storage capacity is part of the solution and creates a mini grid that significantly reduces the need to supply back. Otherwise, there are times when the main grid benefits from supplying back locally generated power. Therefore, the next step is for main and mini grids to communicate with each other. In this case we speak of a smart grid: The management of energy production in large-scale power stations (including wind and solar parks) will then take place in conjunction with the regulation of the inflow and outflow of electricity from the main grid to the mini grids. This may also include signals to households to charge or discharge batteries, turn on the boiler, postpone charging the car or stop the production of energy. An automated monitoring and control system is a necessary enabler here.
The exchange of data between mini grids and the main grid has many privacy aspects, especially if the grid operator can influence what goes on 'behind the meter'. An intermediate layer between main and mini grids offers a solution. We then speak of a microgrid. This is a kind of switch between the main grid and the micro grid, that enables the micro grid even to function autonomously in the event of a failure of the main grid.
A microgrid contains three elements:
1. Installation(s) for local energy production for more than one user (usually a neighborhood): solar panels, wind turbines, cogeneration, heat pump(s), biomass power station, hydropower turbine and possibly an emergency production system (generator).
2. A storage system: home and neighborhood batteries and in the future also supercapacitors and chemical latent heat storage.
3. A digital management system to guarantee the balance between the production of and the demand for electricity, to determine how much energy is taken from or returned to the main grid and which calculates the costs and benefits per household.
In a micro grid, households can exchange their surpluses and shortages of electricity without the direct intervention of the grid operator or the electricity producers. These are solely related to the surpluses and deficits of the entire microgrid, eliminating the need to interfere in the mini grids of individual households. Thanks to the real-time monitoring of electricity production and consumption, the price of electricity can be determined minute by minute. For example, the households that are part of the microgrid can agree to purchase as much electricity as possible when the price is low. At such moments, home batteries, electric cars, any neighborhood battery and boilers and hot water barrels will be charged and heated. This can be done fully automated. For example, the Powermatcher, an open-source application developed by TNO, which now employs 1000 people in the Netherlands. This video illustrates how a microgrid works.
A microgrid gains extra value if the users form an energy cooperative. Here it is possible to decide about the algorithms that regulate the circulation of the current in the microgrid. A cooperative can also take care of the management and maintenance of the solar panels of other collective facilities such as a neighborhood battery, local energy sources (wind or solar park or geothermal heat). The cooperative is also a good means of negotiating with the network operator and the energy company.
The virtual power plant
By linking heat pump technology, energy generation and energy storage at the district level, a significant step can be made with the energy transition. Here are some examples.
The Amsterdam virtual power plant
An almost classic example of a microgrid is the Amsterdam virtual power plant. Here, 50 households produce electricity with solar panels, store it in-house and trade it according to availability when the price on the energy market is most favorable.
Future Living Berlin
This is a nice small-scale practical example developed by Panasonic. Future Living Berlin consists of a neighborhood with apartment buildings for a total of 90 households. The residential buildings are equipped with 600 solar panels that, together with a collective battery system, provide a constant flow of sustainable energy. Among others, to power the seventeen central air/water heat pumps, of which two to five per residential building are installed in a cascade and provide heating and hot tap water. The shared cars and communal washing machines are good for the environment, and they also promote neighborly contact. The Internet of Things also plays a role in controlling the heat pumps. Installers maintain remote access to these systems via a cloud platform.
Tesla's Virtual Power Plant
Tesla has built a virtual power plant in Australia for 50,000 households. Every household has solar panels, with a capacity of 5 kilowatts and a Tesla Powerwall battery of 13.5 kilowatt-hours. As a result, the power station has a capacity of 250 megawatts and a storage capacity of 675 megawatt-hours. Here too, every household charges the battery and possibly the car with self-generated energy and with cheap energy if the supply is large, and they supply the energy they have left to the electricity companies at the market price. In this way the participants save 20% of the annual energy costs.
The ultimate step: autarky
Companies that want to use solar panels and supply the surplus of energy back to the grid are also increasingly encountering the capacity limitations of the main grid. The result is that an increasing number of businesses take power supply into their own hands and even completely refraining from being connected to the grid. Commercial solutions for local virtual power grids are now available, for which companies such as Alfen and Joulz are involved. One of the options is Energy-as-a-service, where the business customer does not invest in an installation but pay a fixed amount per month.
The use of blockchain
Blockchain enables exchanging surplus energy between prosumers without human intervention. Brooklyn Microgrid is a 'benefit corporation', to which every resident who has solar panels can connect and buy energy directly from or sell energy to another user (P2P), without the intervention of the electricity company. Blockchain provides a secure, transparent, and decentralized ledger of all energy production and consumption data and transactions based on 'smart contracts'. These are self-executing programs that automate the exchange of value (here, the amount of electricity) on bilaterally agreed terms. Home and neighborhood batteries, individual and collective heat pumps and charging stations for cars can also be connected to this system.
A similar pilot with blockchain is taking place in the southern German town of Wilpoldsried. Project partners Siemens, grid operator AllgäuNetz, Kempten University of Applied Sciences and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology (FIT) have jointly developed the platform and an app, considering the given load capacity of the grid.
Digital twins: need for oversight
Smart grids, ranging from local mini and micro grids to regional applications, are a substantial alternative to grid reinforcement. At the same time, they create new electricity flows, especially where there is a direct exchange between smart grids and the main grid. That is why there is a growing need to map these flows and regulate them where necessary. Digital twins can be helpful here.
Delft University of Technology has developed a small digital twin for a quarter of the Dutch high-voltage grid. This will gradually be expanded to encompass the entire network. To this end, the existing high-voltage hall of TU Delft will be converted into an Electrical Sustainable Power Lab, which will mirror the electricity network, including high-voltage pylons, sources of wind and solar energy, energy storage and distribution networks. This allows, for example, to simulate the effect of linking a new wind farm. As a result, it provides an overview of all bottlenecks and thus lays the foundation for better network management or the choice for grid reinforcement.
But there are also many promising developments at the local level. For that we must be in the US for the time being. The Cityzenith company, together with Arizona State University, has developed the SmartWorldOS digital twin and is making it available to Phoenix, Las Vegas and New York. Each of these cities is building a digital twin of a part of the center. The twins comprise all the buildings, transportation systems and infrastructure of the affected areas and are powered by sensors sent over a 5G network. They aggregate 3D (space) and 4D (time) data about the actual energy use and visualize and analyze it. Subsequently, the impact of other forms of lighting, heating, but also electricity generation with solar panels on the roof, on the facades and in the windows can be simulated and measured and a decision can be made about their implementation.
I have compiled a dossier on many aspects of the use of solar energy. This dossier deepens this article in several respects. Innovations in solar panels, the use of window glass to generate energy, the growth of solar energy in the Netherlands and the storage of electricity are discussed. Those who are interested can find this file by following the link below.
Is your company active in sustainable building & energy systems market? Are you curious to learn how well your solution fits in Boston or New York City? Then join this pitch event on the 23rd of March. During the event you will pitch your solution to an American expert panel, get feedback on your product-market fit and meet some key stakeholders.
Apart from giving you the opportunity to pitch, this event prepares you for (potential) participation in the mission to New York city and Boston in May 2022. Are you already sure you want to join the trade mission? During your registration for the pitch event you can pre-register to express your interest! Do you first want to get feedback during the pitch event before deciding on joining the mission? No problem, we appreciate a well-considered choice!
Sign up now if you are interested in taking your product/service to the Boston/New York market!
Date: 23 March 2022
Time: 14:00-15:30 (CET)
Through a series of digital seminars, CleanMobilEnergy shares its lessons learnt to cities & regions.
About this event
The second event in the CleanMobilEnergy Digital Seminar series shall provide an in-depth presentation of the interoperable Energy Management System and how it can be applied in cities & regions. The iEMShas beendeveloped and tested in various City Pilot environments (Arnhem, Nottingham, Schwäbisch Gmünd and Stuttgart) through the Interreg North-West Europe (NWE) CleanMobilEnergy project.
CleanMobilEnergy's interoperable Energy Management System will increase the economic value of renewable energy (RES) and significantly reduce carbon emissions. Through the project's interoperable Energy Management System, electricity from the grid will only be required when prices are low or renewable energy sources are not available – and the iEMS monitors and optimises the system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Learn more about how it can do so for your city or region in this next event in our digital webinar series.
10:00 - 10:25 Presentation on CleanMobilEnergy's interoperable energy management system – and how it can be valuable in your city/region
10:25 - 10:45 Moderated Q&A session
Speaker(s): Pierre Kil, Open Remote
Event Moderator: Chris Ashe, European Institute for Innovation - Technology e.V. (EIfI-Tech)
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