Our energy network, from high voltage to low voltage, is becoming increasingly complex. Economic and demographic growth requires more and more connections, while the energy transition makes those connections more demanding: houses need more electricity, but sometimes also deliver current back with solar panels. The result is an energy network that threatens to become completely congested in some places. Take the Buiksloterham neighbourhood in Amsterdam, for example. There, the medium-voltage network can no longer cope with growth, while local industry wants to expand and houses want to become more sustainable.
Professor Peter Palensky, Associate Professor Jose Rueda Torres, Assistant Professor Pedro Vergara and PhD students Aleksandar Boričić and Aihui Fu, together with the AMS Institute, took up the challenge of developing short-term solutions. To make room on the grid, for expansion but also to prevent failures. They presented their research results in a public case study, as many of their findings and recommendations are equally applicable to other congested parts on the Dutch energy grid.
A team of volunteers
Solving the problems on Buiksloterham's medium-voltage network is just one of the many efforts made by scientists of the EEMCS faculty to make the energy transition a reality. In this case, the team even worked in their spare time. Curious as to what motivated them to do so? Then read the personal accounts of Aihui Fu and Aleksandar Boričić.
The solutions proposed by the team can be divided into three categories. First, it is possible to create breathing space for the grid by alternatively switching off the heat pumps of flats, and only for short periods of time. Due to the short and alternating duration, temperature in houses will drop little, while it will save a lot of electricity and thus relieve the grid. In addition, the team is offering to develop energy storage at two strategically chosen locations. This could provide extra power at times of over-voltage – at present, it appears that most problems occur at two overloaded cables. Finally, it is possible to support these two charging points with generators. A pragmatic and, moreover, very short-term solution to the problems.