Intelligent systems for green developments

Elektriciteitsmast.

Windmills, biomass, solar energy, and storage are essential for green developments in energy supplies, but increase the demands on electricity networks. The SenterNovem project ‘Intelligent and Decentralized Management of Networks and Data’ (IdeaNeD) investigates optimal control for future networks.

The CWI leads this project, which started in January. The Eindhoven University of Technology, Alliander, KEMA, Stedin, Joulz, Phase to Phase, Early Minute and Alfen cooperate in the project. The team aims to prevent new products to cause overload of the electricity network.

Energy infrastructure is changing. Alternative (private) energy sources using solar heat or wind become increasingly popular, creating a network of small suppliers: one can speak of decentralized power generation. The power supply can therefore fluctuate. Variations in wind velocity, for instance, cause these fluctuations. The demand for energy also varies. Large-scale use of electric cars can cause an electricity shortage when everybody starts loading their cars after rush hour.

The researchers in IDeaNeD want to gain insight into network load, quality of mains voltage and current, and potential errors. For this purpose they design computational methods and instruments that can handle a large amount of data. Research also focuses on the actual operation and control of a network. This is, for example, essential to lower peak loads in cables to make them last longer. Amongst others, pricing mechanisms could be used to accomplish this. Electricity costs and benefits can then depend on the moment of use and supply, as in day and night rates. For any user or distributor, intelligent software can then determine at which moments power is used or supplied. An alternative or additional control mechanism is 'remote control', enabling electricity companies to operate the usage and supply from a distance.

Recently, research in the control of the electricity network received international attention. The Dutch collaboration between experts from computer science and the electricity field is unique. The project will lead to new insights and to practically applicable products, to be used by energy companies. This makes the energy network suitable for new developments, like large-scale use of electric cars. Also, for network operators, the control of energy and data flows is of great importance.