Renewable energy solutions are on the rise, particularly in the realm of efficiency and storage advancements, making emissions-free electricity more accessible and affordable for all. One drawback, however, is the pressure intermittent renewable energy puts on electrical grids, but Dutch energy expert Alfen may have found the answer. The company has developed the Cellular Smart Grid Platform (CSGriP), which divides the central grid into smaller cells that can operate autonomously and even self-heal.
In case of a central grid power outage, the local cells take over and automatically start restoring all local sources of energy supply, such as solar and wind, and redistribute the energy to local customers. Once the grid balance within a cell is restored, it reconnects to other cells and quickly rebuilds the larger power grid, thus reducing the duration and size of central grid power outages significantly.
“Unique about this solution is that the local cells are intrinsically stable through self-adjustment of supply and demand based on the frequency of the electricity grid. This makes the grid truly self-healing in cases of central grid outages. The self-healing mechanism based on frequencies sets it apart from many IT-related smart grids that require relatively vulnerable data and ICT connections for balancing local grids,” explained Evert Raaijen, Energy Storage Specialist at Alfen.
CSGriP currently being piloted at the Application Centre for Renewable Resources (ACRRES) in Lelystad, the Netherlands. It connects local energy consumers with local biogas, wind and solar energy sources. At the heart of the system is a 0.5 MW energy storage system and a complex algorithm used for local energy management.
While created with the decentralization of developed grids in mind, Alfen says CSGriP shows considerable potential for underserved areas, particularly in developing countries. Instead of constructing central systems based on fossil-fuel driven power plants, the platform could be used to establish local grids based on renewables.
“We have vast experience with local micro-grids in the well-developed regions, but are also increasingly asked to put our experience with storage, power grids and energy management into practice in other areas in the world, enabling them to leapfrog towards the energy system of the future,” said Raaijen.
Alfen partnered with the Delft University of Technology, Application Centre for Renewable Resources, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Avans University, Bredenoord, DNVGL and grid operator Alliander to develop and field test the system, with support from RBO-TKI Urban Energy. Alfen’s portfolio also includes transformer substations, chairing stations for electric vehicles, energy storage and more, which it operates around the world.