At this point in time, the Netherlands does not have the infrastructure to support an entirely sustainable energy supply. How big an alteration are we facing? TNO is working with partners on innovative methods to make our energy grids robust for the future.
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Energy grids play a crucial role in the security of supply of the energy system. But our grids for the transport of electricity, gas and heat are not yet ready for a fully sustainable energy supply. For example, the electricity grid is running up against limits, the gas grid must be made suitable for large quantities of hydrogen and green gas, and the future heat grids must be made suitable for multiple heat suppliers.
Energy grids are about achieving a good balance between sufficient capacity, flexibility and societal costs. In order to be able to create this balance, TNO provides technologies to make grids intelligent as well as expertise in terms of calculation models, future scenarios, and market and business cases.
These are important for grid operators, the authorities, energy producers and suppliers, and end users so that power grids can be operated more efficiently and so that operators are supported in making the optimum investment decisions.
Intelligent energy grids
The energy system of the future will have a wide variety of supply to meet the energy demand at any time irrespective of fluctuations in the sun and wind. TNO is developing intelligent grids and Smart Multi Commodity Grids that connect electrons, molecules and heat, as well as sustainable sources, conversions, storage and transport to end users. ICT and artificial intelligence (AI), of which TNO has a great deal of expertise, play a major role in the design of these grids.
TNO is also developing technology to make large-scale use of the energy flexibility from electric cars, heat pumps and industrial processes to prevent congestion in the electricity grid. As a result, investments in grid reinforcement can be postponed or even avoided.
TNO has a suite of calculation models that can be used for calculating the costs of multi-commodity energy systems and thereby gaining insight into the operation of the future energy system. For example, insight into the effect of mixing hydrogen and biogas in the existing gas grid, a techno-economically optimal neighbourhood approach or the feasibility of a hydrogen grid in a port area.
Future visions and scenarios
Parties are faced with the question of what the energy grids should look like in the long term. TNO provides the knowledge to enable informed choices to be made. We help develop future visions and scenarios, make analyses and provide advice. We do this for Regional Energy Strategies (RES), municipalities, the national government, the European Commission, grid operators and industry. For several provinces we are conducting system studies with our partners to provide a comprehensive picture of the desired energy infrastructure between now and 2050.
ReFLEX is a software solution that enables the energy supplier of the future to create a powerful Virtual Power Plant (VPP). Because in addition to a few large power plants for generation and supply by energy companies, there will be new suppliers and intermediaries. Moreover, the number of heat pumps, electric cars and home batteries for the storage of sustainably generated electricity is growing. These can also be used to absorb peaks in supply and demand. This requires a system that is able to organise flexibility of supply and demand to the utmost: ReFLEX.
European cities have historic centers with a lot of cultural heritage that are well worth transforming into sustainable, smart areas. TNO plays a prominent role in the European project H2020 POCITYF to achieve this goal.