With the Internet of Energy, the real estate and construction sector is developing essential responses to address market and system costs and to match energy supply and demand. These ideas emerged from the Internet of Energy webinar, with a wide variety of experts speaking.
It fell to energy expert Arash Aazami to kick off the digital meeting, as chair and speaker. He indicated that it felt ‘like a warm bath’ to take on these roles during an event by Duurzaam Gebouwd, the platform he described as ‘one of the first to pay attention to the Internet of Energy issue’.
He first dealt with current events: skyrocketing energy bills, reliance on fossil fuels. He showed a world map detailing ‘The State of Peace’, that is, the degree of peace that exists in each country. Shortly after, he showed with signs from which countries we obtain the greatest amount of energy. Those brands seem to be placed mainly in relatively insecure countries. “One could argue that there is a correlation between conflict and energy. The war that is now being waged also has an inseparable connection with energy. For example, Germany has a 40% dependence on gas with Russia”.
Arash Aazami: “Every time we use or buy fossil fuels, we are financing a conflict.”
It is clear that things have to change. Apart from the dependence of certain countries on fossil fuels, we need to get rid of the consumption of these resources. To get back in balance with the planet, we need to massively reduce our energy consumption. “That imbalance factor is 1 million. Balance is the biggest problem.” He emphasized to the participants the importance of the task for the energy transition: “Energy is a natural reality that we always have to deal with. It is much more fundamental than the financial market.”
The congestion problem in the Netherlands also teaches us that speeding up the transition is of great importance. A third of the surface of our small country can no longer support the import of renewable energy. “In addition, we see a cost increase of 650% for the price of a kWh within a year. With the Internet of Energy, we are developing key responses to address system and market costs.” According to him, we need a different mindset, quoting Buckminster Fuller: “You don’t change things by fighting the existing reality, but by building to create a new model that makes the existing framework obsolete.”
One of the parties that understands this move and is already active in putting this move into practice is TRUE. This consortium, made up of parties such as BAM, Stedin, TU/e and OrangeNXT, spoke through Heine van Wieren about what they understand by an Internet of Energy. “It starts with grouping individual buildings into local energy communities. We group them in a similar way and bring the communities together into one network.” What then are such ‘communities’? On the residential side, according to Van Wieren, you can think about housing associations. “But also to Green Business clubs or companies that have different locations.”
TROEF is putting this into practice in The Hague, among others with ‘Energierijk Den Haag’, where a solution for energy storage ensures that supply and demand are optimised. A second example is the Schoemakers Plantation in Delft, a residential area whose energetic community is seeking connections with other parties. The residents of the NOM houses are motivated to take even more steps in the energy transition. There is also good news to report in the field of making public services more sustainable. According to Van Wieren, more and more companies are intrinsically motivated and interested in preparing for the future: “At the same time, we notice that the energy transition is unattainable for many companies, because the energy market is complex. You need to be knowledgeable about that and buy equipment to make that transition.”
This can cost a lot of time, energy and financial investments. TROEF wants to avoid this by offering a solution that is demonstrably sustainable, has lower costs and higher profitability. How does a TROEF Internet of Energy start? “We start with users, such as employees and specialists such as energy buyers. Communicate with all of those parties to make a positive difference. For example, we make sure that specialists can work optimally with the energy markets.” The next step focuses on collaboration. “By joining forces, they can, for example, buy a battery together, buy energy together, and realize sustainable energy sources together.” This makes it easier to accelerate the energy transition together.
The building as an energy pole
The importance of this acceleration was once again underlined by the following speaker Richard ter Horst from Eaton: “Energy is necessary for health, pleasure, for food supply and is therefore of vital importance”. To enable the transition to fully sustainably generated energy, Ter Horst sees opportunities in the building as an energy hub. “A place where energy is generated, consumed and stored. That is the axis of the energy transition.” Hubs that match supply and demand are essential because the way we generate and use energy has changed. For example, in homes we use a Quooker, a large refrigerator, all kinds of electronic equipment and now we generate sustainable energy ourselves with solar panels. At the same time, there are challenges when it comes to the load on the power grid. “For example, a new connection or expansion is not possible everywhere, and sometimes re-delivery is no longer possible.”
What does it mean for a building if, for example, it is located in a congested area and wants to start the energy transition? “You can’t help but look at the building’s energy profile first.” This may show that there is a mismatch between energy demand, generation and supply. For example, solar panels can generate power that is not fully deployed at the time of generation. Ter Horst shows a case study of a building [zie video, red.] where it is applied and a possible solution: “A 150 kWh energy storage system and a 70 kW inverter can offer a solution for the summer. More is needed for the winter, namely a 700 kWh energy storage system and an 80 kW inverter. In addition, energy-saving measures such as insulation and LED lighting are possible, and energy management reduces energy consumption by 15-25%.”
To ensure that the energy transition is accessible to more parties, the payback period for sustainability measures such as energy storage must be reduced. “It has to be 7 years old or less and a good power management software system is essential for that. Energy rates are monitored and, in combination with an energy contract, you will compensate for energy when energy is affordable. You will use the energy that you have stored or you will generate it yourself if it is more expensive. If necessary, it will return it to the network.”
If the Internet of Energy becomes a physical and economic reality, there are, of course, laws and regulations to follow. These are becoming increasingly complex, partly due to changes due, for example, to the introduction of the Environment and Planning Act. That sustainability and digitization go beyond technical solutions and are also legally complex, participants heard from Paul Waszink of Bird & Bird. “The regulations that make the Internet of Energy possible are becoming complex, with many European and national regulations.”
Empowering the end customer
At the EU level, for example, we see the Energy Efficiency of Buildings Directive (EPBD II) and the Directive on the Use of Energy from Renewable Sources (RED II). At the national level, there is the Electricity and Gas Law, the Energy Concept Law of 2021, and the Heat Law/Collective Heat Supply Law. “A broad and intensive field that arises when talking about the Internet of Energy. It is clear that the upcoming legislation and regulations aim to empower the end customer by offering more options and guaranteeing more”.
It is therefore the intention that their position be strengthened, and this changes their role: the end customer is given the right to be an active customer, who also supplies and supplies energy to himself. Directly to another person or through a aggregator† [partij afstemming tussen vraag en aanbod elektriciteit realiseert, red.] “Other elements should bring the Internet of Energy closer. “Aggregation should be encouraged and there will be an obligation for smart meters. There is also a focus on the wider disclosure of data. Furthermore, it should be possible to establish energy communities with an accessible threshold.” Thus, the concept of ‘energy community’ is enshrined in the law, with the characteristics of offering non-profit environmental, economic or social benefits. “In addition, there must be an open and voluntary character, and the members or shareholders must have a voice.”
Curious about all the insights in this webinar? Watch the webinar via this link, or click on the video above.