Changing Places: From Traditional Networks to Smart Grids
The dictionary defines the word ‘smart’ as someone being ‘intelligent, resourceful and quick-thinking’ - appropriate words to describe the reaction in energy circles to growing global challenges.
Traditional electricity systems have served much of the global population well for over 100 years. But our world is changing, and a once robust grid is creaking under the pressure of substantial 21st century demands.
Increases in global appetite for energy due to population growth and our craving for power-hungry gadgets are not the only drivers of change. Climate change and carbon reduction targets, growth in alternative energy generation, and depleting supplies of fossil fuels - when combined with increased demand - are quite staggering barriers to modernisation. But perhaps where some see chaos and conflict, our engineers see opportunities to innovate and benefit society.
Handling these challenges in a sustainable, new and reliable way is already bringing benefits to companies and consumers in the shape of reduced energy bills and a more cost-efficient process of balancing demand with supply.
Since the turn of the 21st Century, the global capacity for alternative energy generation (wind, solar) has increased nine-fold. Did you know that this variable, renewable generation now accounts for approximately 7% of total global capacity? In some countries this can be as high as 30% and Smart Grids are beginning to integrate this low-carbon energy generation at a local and national level to bring much lower costs and increased energy efficiency.
Smart Grids possess the capacity to respond accurately to demand and can also integrate new technologies to enable greater storage – of huge benefit where renewable supply is difficult to forecast.
This evolution in the way we manage our energy will improve reliability, reduce black-outs, lower Co2 emissions and reduce long-term maintenance - giving us all greater control over our costs. Royal HaskoningDHV is currently engaged in several Smart Grid projects across various sectors. Of note are:
The Green Grid project delivering solutions to the horticultural sector through the integration of biowaste for fertilisation.
The harbour of Rotterdam’s Maasvlakte II Port extension where wind energy is collected and delivered via the smart Grid to the container terminal (Smart Grids are becoming more popular in this sector to develop sustainable main ports).
And Modienet, the innovative Pilot project in the Dutch city of Deventer where energy supply and demand is handled by companies of a new Business Park. This Grid utilises solar and wind energy, biomass and the heating-cooling approach and is being realised in partnership with Cofely, Liander, Laborelec, Technical University Eindhoven, Raedthuys and the municipality of Deventer.
For more information on these projects or to comment and contribute on the subject of Smart Grids, please contact Niels Lanser