AI and Smart Grids for Sustainable Electrical Energy
The global demand for renewable energy sources calls for innovative ways to decentralise the generation of electricity, for better decentralised energy storage, and for regulation of the effects on the stability of the power grid: both the national smart grid and mini off grid power units.
In East Netherlands, the HAN – University for Applied Sciences – develops and shares knowledge about innovations in this field through its Sustainable Electrical Energy Centre of Expertise (SEECE). One of the research projects: “Smart grids and decentralised electricity storage” (SOPRA), incorporating the benefits of Big Data and AI.
From centralised to decentralised energy supplies
Society is making a fundamental energy transition from centralised to decentralised supplies. The developments are so rapid that future graduates will work in a completely different energy world than the one we know now. The most striking revolutions are the transition from centralised to decentralised electrical energy generation through the emergence of thermal energy units and the use of renewable resources, such as sun and wind.
Developments at crossroads
Developments in electrical energy technology are mainly expected to occur at the crossroads between decentralised power generation and electrical transport systems. These developments are complementary since the energy demand for transport can be tailored to the stochastic supply from decentralised sources. Smart grids make it possible to align the supply and demand of electrical energy and can replace the current, classic supply-driven production.
SEECE is a public-private partnership that aims to promote quality research in the field of renewable electrical energy. The knowledge gained informs the degree courses at HAN and improves the quality of education. Where possible, the research is conducted with students so they gain experience at an early stage in their career.
SOPRA: Smart Grids and Decentralised Electricity Storage
The SOPRA project (Sustainable Off-grid Power Station for Rural Applications) connects various sustainable energy sources with a storage system to create a sustainable power plant. The sustainable energy sources in this project include 30 kW solar panels, a 30 kW wind power simulator and a biodiesel generator. Climate data and experimental measurements are used to assess how many households the system would be able to supply with electricity.
Concentrated Solar Power Systems (CSP)
One example of solar power research is a project that focuses on better ways of utilising solar energy. This project has potential applications in horticulture and aims to develop energy-neutral or energy-producing greenhouses. This system quadruples the yield of solar energy.
The output of inland wind turbines is limited, and the locations of mega turbines are not feasible in most places due to the noise and the giant blades of 120m high and 80m long. The current turbines have almost reached their technological limit. By harvesting wind energy at high altitudes, however, the yield can be much higher. At an altitude of 100m, the average wind speed is twice the average speed of that at 10m. There is also more wind and steadier wind at higher altitudes. Wind energy can therefore be harvested at higher elevations, requiring less investment than with traditional wind turbines.
Living Lab Energy
The Living Lab Energy is a demonstration and experimental space where, together with partners from the professional field, HAN researchers show what a sustainable and smart living environment might look like. A former office building in the Presikhaaf neighbourhood in Arnhem has been transformed into a temporary dwelling, a ‘home’ for foreign artists who perform ‘socio-artistic work’ that increases social cohesion in the neighbourhood. The ultimate goal of the project is to come up with smart applications for sustainable renovations of ‘hopeless buildings’. One of these smart applications is an automated outer wall system that notifies the user of ‘over-consumption’.
The Sustainable Electrical Energy Centre of Expertise (SEECE) is a structural partnership between the University of Arnhem and Nijmegen (HAN) with energy-related partner companies and institutions. In this network organization companies, education, research and governments are united, they are represented and work together on a reliable, affordable electricity supply for a sustainable world.
SEECE’s mission is to focus the applied research of HAN with and for partners on the strategic goals around the theme ‘reliability and affordability’ of the energy supply during the current energy transition and to see this energy supply in a global perspective, where entrepreneurship and valorisation of our knowledge are crucial for the necessary innovations.
Sources: HAN – ASGARD (in Dutch: Smart Grids & AI)