Four specific applications that exemplify a smart energy and utility sector

Four specific applications that exemplify a smart energy and utility sector

1 June 2021


Climate change, the resulting demand for the supply of renewable energy, and the challenge of dealing with scarce energy sources mean that the energy and utilities sector is on course for an unstoppable transformation. In practice, all of the players in the value chain will find themselves affected. Are you aware of the upcoming challenges? Do you know how technology can assist in this change? We take a look at four specific applications that add value in this challenging context.

These applications were discussed in depth in our April Innovation Thursday webinar, dedicated to Smart Energy & Utilities. Watch the recording now.

A smart grid can balance supply and demand

The current energy value chain starts with the major producers, from where the energy is transported, distributed and ultimately sold to businesses and households. The boundaries between these steps are blurring, and households with solar panels are becoming "prosumers". The network is a grid of power lines which transport electricity from the power plants to the consumers. In the past, such a network could find itself unable to meet market demand. The focus at that time was on increasing production, often using fossil fuels. By adding smart technology to the grid , we can gain a better understanding of how this grid operates. A smart grid also enables a two-way interaction between all the players in the value chain. The grid forecasts how much energy is needed when, and can even influence demand. Sharing information with each other can improve how the grid is used.

Energy islands, driven by local needs and opportunities

In addition to the standard grid, we can also set up energy islands to supply energy to a particular neighborhood. Within such an island, we combine all the energy vectors, and manage them together. This differs from the normal way things work, where they would be managed separately. Given a holistic picture like this, it is also much easier for renewable energy to claim its place. For example, a factory with solar panels uses the energy it produces during the week, but a lot is often lost over the weekend. Within an energy island, this energy can be made available to households in the vicinity of the factory. Islands stand alone, but can also jump in if the standard grid is at risk of failing.

We are working on the RENergetic project, which is co-financed by the European Commission. This project revolves around community-led, sustainable, multi-vector energy islands. The aim of the RENergetic project is to improve the efficiency, community involvement and socio-economic viability of three urban energy islands. One of these is located in Ghent.

Smart Energy

Electrific, your partner for electric driving

The aim of this project is to make driving electric cars more attractive for all stakeholders. This project is supported by the European Union and coordinated by Inetum-Realdolmen. We want to give electric driving a boost by making greater use of renewable energy for charging, and by increasing battery life. The aim is also to reduce the pressure of electric cars on the power grid. We do this by providing drivers with relevant information via an app. The app helps them plan the best route, and suggests green charging points along the way. In addition, the project includes a solution to make charging stations "smart", so that they can help stabilize the grid in the event of local problems. The charging points are able to modulate the power delivered to the connected vehicles. This means there is local monitoring of the grid status. If the grid is OK, charging is fast. If the software detects local problems, the charging station will adjust the rate of charging.

InterConnect delivers smart energy consumption at home

InterConnect brings together more than 50 partners to develop and demonstrate advanced solutions for connecting and converging digital homes and buildings with the electricity sector. The project is laying the foundations for future smart energy management solutions and uses seven interconnected, large-scale test sites in Portugal, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece and France. The overarching goal is to bring efficient energy management within the reach of end users.

The solution includes a centralized system that is able to know or determine the best time to use (or not use) energy. This system is able to manage the entire household holistically while at the same time communicating with grid operators, so that houses become "active" players. For example, you give your washing machine a 9-hour time frame to run a wash cycle. Or you set the boiler so it only heats water when the energy price is low. This empowers passive consumers so they can play a role that is both active and smart in their own energy consumption.

Dive in to all the possibilities

Watch the Innovation Thursday webinar on this topic.

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