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Electricity grid on DC voltage

 

Greenhouses, DC electric grid, smart grid, electricity, renewables, pilot, AC, Gas

There is interest in our project from all over the world, even from Germany, which normally leads the Netherlands in sustainable energy developments.

We are consuming more and more electricity because of the increasing use of complex devices. We are also increasingly generating energy using local sources.

The existing AC grid is not designed to meet this demand.

In a greenhouse development called PrimAviera, the world’s first DC grid based on sustainable energy is being installed. This pilot project proves that DC voltage could offer a solution for today’s energy issues.

Results

  • Direct Current has become the basis for DC power projects all over the world. We are currently hard at work to make DC voltage the standard in countries such as India and South Africa. This pilot project has had successes at home with street lighting on DC voltage, an opportunity that emerged during the original project in the greenhouses.
  • This spin-off is now making us money. We have installed street lighting on DC voltage in Musselkanaal, Alphen aan den Rijn, the N62 road in Zeeland and will probably include the region covered by the power company Enexis in the near future.
  • We are developing teaching material for higher education institutions with the new technology, so students all over the world can become ambassadors for its further development.
  • DC voltage was a forgotten technique but is now high on the agenda.

Objectives

The realization of a pilot project for DC voltage in a horticultural region to demonstrate the advantages of a DC grid. The partners wanted solutions for these issues:

  • How can the potential of DC grids be realized in practice?
  • How can we save energy and create economic advantages for investors and end users with such a grid.
  • How do the legislation and regulations need to be formulated to make this possible?

Why they acted?

1.2 billion people in the developing world have no access to an electricity grid. Why would you install an AC grid developed a hundred years ago there, when you have a cheaper, more sustainable and safer alternative in direct current?

Next step

  • There are plenty of ambitions and plans for when the pilot project comes to an end. Another greenhouse will be suited to the DC project
  • There is a plan to optimize the CHP plant to the DC grid and hook up to the new two-hectare solar park.
  • Direct Current BV is making social houses in the city Soesterberg energy neutral.
    If you want to install all sorts of equipment such as solar panels and electric hobs then the AC grid will need to be updated, which will be very expensive. By converting the grid to DC voltage you get a lot more capacity for less money.
    Residents can continue to use their AC equipment using converters made by Siemens. This concerns a total of 2.4 million houses; a good opportunity for the large-scale implementation of DC voltage.
  • There is interest in our project from all over the world, even from Germany, which normally leads the Netherlands in sustainable energy developments. Where it concerns DC voltage, the tables have been turned.

Lessons Learned

In the area, more businesses in the greenhouse cultivation region now want to follow the PrimAviera example and switch to direct current. Another good reason to expand the DC grid is the building of a major solar park.

Solar panels generate direct current, and this is currently first converted to AC for transport and then back to DC to be used. The conversions result in efficiency losses.

Thanks to all the positive developments, the pilot project has finally gained the support of the system operator, who until know had not been willing to commit to the project.

  • System operators are tasked with managing public resources as efficiently and cheaply as possible. They cannot afford to follow every new trend.
  • But the fact that we couldn’t involve the system operator from day one did form a bottleneck for our pilot project partners.
  • They were required to make major investments without knowing who would own the grid when it was up and running.
  • You need to make agreements like these beforehand, and this was an important lesson.
  • However the cooperation with energy supplier Alliander looks promising
    Their own research has revealed that even a combination of DC and AC voltage is only 10% more expensive than only AC. This is a good solution for parties who are not willing to switch completely to DC straight away; you can use both types of current simultaneously.

Documents

Case study Local electricity grid on DC voltage