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Technology 15

Living with smart grids
PowerMatching City was the irst European ield trial of smart grids. Phase 2 kicked off in 2011, expanding the connected community from 25 to 40 households

actually itted their needs better. lost conidence in the device, it is
The PowerMatching
City demonstration F or most people in the power in-
dustry, the question isn’t
“should we build smart grids?”
it is “how and how fast?” The need
services and incentives work for
In the trial community, electricity is
generated by solar panels. Some of
This is not to say that the residents
chose lower cost over higher sustain-
ability. Rather, it highlights the difi-
very hard to win it back.
On the other hand, manual control
– guided by the energy monitor –
project at Hoogkerk to maintain an affordable, reliable the homes have a micro combined culty and importance of expressing gave people the greatest sense of sat-
and sustainable electricity supply heat and power (CHP) system that the value of sustainability. Services isfaction with and control over the
ended in late 2015, makes smart grids inevitable. But we can generate electricity and heat ac- need to be simple and simple to un- system. In fact, once they had
have no previous hands-on experi- cording to demand. The heat pro- derstand. But sustainability is a difi- learned a little about demand and
but the smart grid ence, so how can the industry and duced can be stored in a buffer tank cult topic for consumers to under- cost cycles, many residents preferred
society in general make sure it is if necessary. Other homes have a stand, as it is hard to see how your to control the semi-automatic wash-
infrastructure remains making the right choices in imple- heat pump connected to a buffer tank individual actions impact the entire ing machines themselves – turning
menting smart grids? in order to lexibly use the power and system. them on and off at the best times.
in place to support This was the question that demon- provide heat depending on the luc- Residents said they found the infor- In a smart grid, much of the lexi-
stration project PowerMatching tuating demand. mation on costs tangible and moti- bility lies with the individual con-
any future projects. City was set up to explore. While In addition, homes are equipped vating. By contrast, the leaf symbols sumers. So how do we let grid opera-
Phase 1 of the project focused on with programmable appliances, such and the sustainability gains they rep- tors and energy suppliers utilise these
PowerMatching City the technical feasibility of smart as washing machines. The specially resented were seen as less tangible. small packets of lexibility effective-
was envisioned as a grids, the recently completed Phase
2 looked at how smart grids and the
created PowerMatcher operating sys-
tem matches the energy supply and
Interestingly, residents on the Smart
Cost Savings service were far more
ly while giving the consumers ready
access to the market? One of the key
demonstration of the lexibility they bring add value for demand of various providers and us- likely to manually start their appli- indings of PowerMatching City
consumers, the energy industry and ers in real-time, allowing the smart ances at times suggested by the Phase 2 was that a single party
possibilities of smart communities. management of appliances and sys- PowerMatcher and checked their en- should be responsible for bundling
PowerMatching City is a living lab tems. This management could take ergy monitor on average twice as of- and distributing this lexibility for
grid technologies – for exploring the future of energy one of three forms: ten as people using the More Sus- the market.
(electricity, gas and heat) infrastruc- n Automatic control of the heat tainable Together service. Exactly how this aggregator role
something it clearly tures. Located at Hoogkerk near pump or micro CHP This suggests that, to ensure the should be implemented remains an
Groningen in the Netherlands, it was - PowerMatcher autonomously de- success of services, service providers open question and is currently being
achieved. the irst European ield trial of smart cides when to switch on and off in need to ind a way to express sustain- explored by the Universal Smart En-
grids and was designed to test centr- response to energy costs / demand ability in a way that engages con- ergy Framework (USEF) Founda-
Albert van der Noort alised and renewable energy systems n Semi-automatic control of the sumers. And that often means pre- tion, drawing on the lessons learnt at
on a community-wide level. washing machine senting it as some kind of monetary PowerMatching City.
The trial was launched in 2009 by - PowerMatcher switches on the value. PowerMatching City was envi-
a consortium of leading players in appliance in response to demand but One of the key advantages of a sioned as a demonstration of the pos-
the Dutch energy industry and aca- within boundary conditions (e.g. lat- smart grid is the lexibility it offers. sibilities of smart grid technologies –
demia, coordinated by DNV GL. est end time) set by user Analysis of the results from Power- something it clearly achieved. Phase
Phase 2 kicked off in 2011, expand- n Manual control of dishwasher, hair Matching City suggests that this lex- 1 showed that smart grids are techni-
ing the connected community from dryer, etc. ibility in the Dutch consumer market cally feasible. Phase 2 went further
25 to 40 households and with a brief - User decides when to switch on could be worth €1-3.5 billion for the by demonstrating how the lexibility
to explore the market mechanisms and off, possibly guided by informa- period to 2050. This divides into of smart grids has economic value. It
that should be deployed with smart tion from PowerMatcher. beneits for system operators and also proved that desirable energy ser-
grids. Smart meters and a power monitor beneits for the energy market as a vices can be built on smart grid in-
Smart meters and a power This is critical to the success or give people feedback on their own whole. frastructure, and that market barriers
monitor give people feedback failure of smart grids and green ener- energy consumption and generation, For system operators, the key ben- to the monetisation of lexibility can
on their own energy gy in general. If we want to make the which they could compare with the eits are the need to invest less in de- be eliminated relatively cheaply.
consumption and generation, transition to a sustainable energy fu- averages from the entire street. veloping new networks and main- The PowerMatching City demon-
which they could compare ture as eficient as possible, we need To explore the most suitable mar- taining existing ones plus fewer stration project at Hoogkerk ended in
with the averages from the to get consumers involved in that ket mechanisms for smart grids, re- losses due to long distance transport. late 2015, but the smart grid infra-
entire street transition. We need to ind out what searchers and residents at Power- Meanwhile energy providers in the structure remains in place to support
Matching City developed two wholesale market can proit in the any future projects. Meanwhile the
contrasting energy services. The irst, wholesale price to purchase cheaper challenge of demonstration has
Smart Cost Savings, allowed resi- energy for their customers. passed on to larger-scale projects
dents to minimise the cost of energy This lexibility relies on energy such as EnergieKoplopers, a 200-
consumption and generation. The providers having some control over home ield trial at Heerhugowaard in
second service, known as More Sus- when consumers use and generate the Netherlands, being carried out by
tainable Together, focused on maxi- electricity. Hence it is vital that con- the Smart Energy Collective based
mising the share of renewables with- sumers understand and buy into their on the principles of USEF.
in the community’s energy mix by role in delivering lexibility, and bal- Projects such as PowerMatching
channelling any excess energy back ancing supply and demand. City and EnergieKoplopers will give
into the community. The automatically controlled ap- governments and the industry the in-
Residents were allocated to the two pliances (micro CHP, heat pump formation and experience they need
services randomly, and researchers and – where present – electric vehi- to make the right strategic choices
measured the actual energy con- cles) offer suppliers most lexibility. for implementing smart grids. These
sumption and generation of all the Residents also reported that these choices will need to be made at the
devices in the home over a period of appliances contributed most to the European level to deliver the desired
seven months. Those on the Smart goals of the energy services. They legislative framework in European
Cost Savings were shown the effects were more than happy for the Power- Union member states. Critical to this
of their energy as a Euro value, while Matcher to control these appliances process is a clear timeline so that the
the More Sustainable Together ser- automatically so long as they investment risk for the energy sector
vice presented the user’s impact via worked as required. and the providers can be managed
leaf symbols. For example, people didn’t mind and the likelihood of dis-investments
Being environmentally minded, when their electric car was charged is reduced to a minimum.
the majority of residents originally so long as it was ready to go when
expressed a preference for the More they were. Occasionally, the resi- Albert van der Noort is ‘Head of
Sustainable Together service. But dents noticed that certain devices section – Smart Energy’ at DNV GL.
by the end of the trial, most found switched on or off at seemingly il- He is project manager of Power-
that the Smart Cost Savings service logical times. And once the user has Matching City.