Smart Integrated Decentralized Energy Systems

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Nafeez Ahmed:

"According to the new report, titled New Strategies For Smart Integrated Decentralised Energy Systems, by 2050 almost half of all EU households will produce renewable energy. Of these, more than a third will participate in a local energy community. In this context, the microgrid opportunity could be a game changer.

The report describes microgrids as the end result the combination of several technological trends, namely, rooftop solar, electric vehicles, heat pumps and batteries for storage. The key is that these technologies are decentralized—they can easily be owned by consumers and cooperatives in local systems.

“As time progresses, costs go down and climate awareness goes up, more and more people will start owning one or more of these technologies,” de Graaf told me.

Currently, he said, the way in which we use these technologies is, in his words, “dumb.” We simply attach solar panels, heat pumps, and electric vehicles to the grid for their own separate purposes. This dramatically increases the load on the local grid, requiring costly infrastructure upgrades to sustain the system.

This is where what the Metabolic report calls “SIDE” systems come in – standing for “Smart Integrated Decentralised Energy.” SIDE systems provide a way to intelligently integrate different technologies to balance supply and demand locally in a way that prevents high costs.

“This integration should be done through an intelligent energy management system, that will charge your car when the sun is shining, and export excess electricity production to your neighbour's heat pump: a smart-grid,” said de Graaf. “Ultimately, this smart, decentralised integration democratises energy production and consumption, and allows consumers and cooperatives to take control of their own energy supply, which will help facilitate the renewable energy transition from the bottom-up.”

The Metabolic report’s findings are based on real-world data extracted from four cases in Amsterdam. One the cases that stood out is the Ardehuizen, a near self-sufficient ecovillage consisting of 23 “Earthship” houses.

“By using mostly recycled, locally sourced, and low-impact construction materials, the Earthship design focuses on minimising the ecological footprint of its inhabitants,” explains the report. The systems in place at the Ardehuizen include heat pumps, electric boilers, solar thermal and photovoltaic panels, wood stoves and grid connections." (

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