Grid congestion is becoming increasingly significant and will start to pose a problem in the low-voltage network in the coming years. This will prevent homeowners from transitioning away from gas, result in low efficiency for their solar panels, and could make it impossible to have a charging station at their doorstep. Alliander does not want to hinder the energy transition. Therefore, they are looking for a way to involve homeowners in the issue of grid congestion and provide solutions that are still feasible with a crowded grid.
In the energy work session on the 14th of December, Wouter van Rooijen (Alliander) discussed the challenges related to grid congestion. From 2030 onwards, it is expected that a significant portion of the low-voltage network will experience both over- and under-voltage. While the network will be reinforced as quickly as possible, the lack of labour capacity is also prompting the consideration of alternative solutions.
The solution that emerged from Wouter's co-creation process was WijkWise. In this work session, Wouter aimed to validate the WijkWise concept and find parties that could contribute to its development and market implementation. Dave van Loon from Kennisland moderated the session.
WijkWise – Understanding the neighbourhood's grid situation
The WijkWise concept focuses on three problems:
- The growth of grid congestion at low-voltage
- Homeowners' uncertainty about making sustainable investments. For instance, because they may not know if their solar panels will yield a good return.
- Homeowners' lack of awareness regarding the impact their choices have on the stability of the grid.
The proposed solution:
"With WijkWise, Alliander continues to facilitate homeowners in making their homes more sustainable. Alliander does this by providing insight into the neighbourhood's grid situation and recommending the best investment. Residents can make informed choices that contribute to payback time, comfort, and certainty. A good choice benefits both the homeowner and the grid operator."
The idea is to provide more insight into the neighbourhood's grid situation and offer tailored advice for home sustainability. This way, homeowners can determine whether they should invest in insulation, a heat pump, or solar panels.
Alliander does not want to develop this concept alone, but is seeking partners to bring this concept to market.
After the concept presentation, a brief discussion followed. The main questions raised were:
- Can providing insight into the neighbourhood's grid situation have (negative) effects on the housing market?
→ They don't know yet; further investigation is needed.
- Can this data be shared freely?
→ The data shared will be at the neighbourhood level (transformer level) and not in real-time (monthly). If there is user data involved, consent must be obtained.
- What behaviour change do you expect?
→ That, during the investment moment, consideration will be given to the grid situation for the most advantageous investment.
After the discussion, we worked in groups with the Empathy Canvas from Kennisland to view the WijkWise concept from the perspective of the homeowners. This tool helped us really view the problems from the perspective of a homeowner.
In three groups, we delved into the homeowner's situation. The recurring themes in the empathy maps were:
- A sense of unfairness for the homeowner. They invest in sustainability and are rewarded with grid congestion problems.
- A feeling of uncertainty for the homeowner. They want assurance that their investment will yield results.
- Little trust in the grid operator and the government. First, everyone had to get solar panels, and now suddenly it doesn't fit, and net metering is being discontinued (or not?)
- Limited understanding by homeowners because they find it very complicated and don't want to delve into it. It's not an urgent problem for them.
- Collaboratively seeking solutions can be very positive, but can also lead to friction.
Alliander plans to take the next steps with this concept in 2024. In 2024, they are planning to do the follow-up research, make the minimal viable product, and launch the first version of the product at the end of the year.
Do you know of any stakeholders that absolutely need to be involved, or would you like to be involved in the implementation of the WijkWise concept? Please contact Noor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Special thanks to Wouter and Dave for this interesting session.