Sustainable Energy: innovation for energy efficiency

In 2007 the members of the European Union agreed that the percentage of renewable energy sources in the energy mix has to be 20% by 2020. To achieve this target an even greater portion of the energy mix will have to be renewable with a corresponding increase in energy efficiency. This increase in efficiency must be achieved not just within the various energy carriers (electricity, gas, heating) but also in between.

This is a highly complex transition. Currently, there are different autonomous developments taking place, each at its own tempo and, in part, interdependently. We are seeing the emergence of intermittent sources like wind and solar energy. In a large-scale rollout there will be a significant increase in the need for flexibility and rapid-start reserve capacity to achieve a balance, unless consumers respond with alertness to (a surplus of) the supply. There are also developments in the field of local energy generation and use. To facilitate this development the distribution grid must be differently designed as a bi-directional system in which users not only acquire but can also resupply energy. The speed at which these developments (HRe boilers, PV, electric transport, heat pumps) in and to the distribution grid are occurring is still uncertain.

Intelligent energy networks (smartgrids)

TNO works with commercial players and the government to develop and integrate knowledge of intelligent energy networks. These are energy infrastructures (for electricity, gas, heating, cooling) that can be intelligently supplemented to all network components through a measurement infrastructure and control applications. Based on a multi-stakeholder business model in which major and minor consumers and producers in the network can be integrated, the energy supply will become reliable, sustainable and efficient. In 2050 those networks will have the same supply security as fossil fuels, especially if the share of sustainable decentralised energy generation (like solar and wind energy, greengas, biogas and syngas) increases. Smart Grids are intelligent energy networks that enable the use of renewable, locally generated energy to be optimised and peak loads to be prevented or reduced.

Today's energy infrastructure is increasingly being used in a different way than that for which it was originally designed. In addition, the aspects of 'time' and 'amount of energy supply' (by renewable energy generators like wind or sun) are not easy to control. Finally, if developments like sustainable transport (such as the electric car) or sustainable heating (by heat pumps) become widespread, peak loads may occur and cause problems in the energy infrastructure.

Information and contact

For more information on the role of energy-efficiency in the energy transition, and TNO's research on this we kindly invite you to contact us.

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