Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Alfen storage technology aids self-healing grids

Steve Rogerson
October 24, 2017

Dutch company Alfen has launched energy storage technology for self-healing power grids.
The rapid increase of intermittent renewable energy is putting an increasing pressure on global electricity grids. To make power grids more resilient to external influences, energy infrastructure company Alfen is launching a platform that allows local parts of the grid to disconnect from the central grid and self-heal.
The CSGriP cellular smart grid platform divides the central grid into many small cells that have the ability to function autonomously. In case of a central grid power outage, these local cells take over control. They automatically start restoring all local sources of energy supply, such as solar and wind, and distribute this energy among local consumers.
At the core of this local grid is an energy storage system developed by Alfen. This ensures that the balance between production and consumption is maintained. Once the grid balance within a cell is restored, it automatically reconnects to other cells and, as such, quickly rebuilds the larger power grid. Consequently, both the duration and size of central grid power outages are reduced significantly.
CSGriP was field tested at the Application Centre for Renewable Resources (ACRRES) in Lelystad, Netherlands. It combines local energy sources such as solar, wind and biogas with local energy consumers. At the heart of this infrastructure is a 0.5MW energy storage system and a complex algorithm used for local energy management. Both were developed and delivered by Alfen.
"Unique about this is that the local cells are intrinsically stable through self-adjustment of supply and demand based on the frequency of the electricity grid,” said Evert Raaijen, energy storage specialist at Alfen. “This makes the grid truly self-healing in cases of central grid outages. The self-healing mechanism based on frequencies truly sets it apart from many IT-related smart grids that require relatively vulnerable data and data connections for balancing local grids."
The platform can prepare grids that are already well developed for a future that will be significantly more de-centralised and renewables-oriented. Furthermore, bigger opportunities exist in parts of the world that still need to be electrified. Instead of constructing central systems based on large fossil-fuel power plants, local grids based on renewables can be the logical approach in greenfield situations.
Raaijen added: "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."
In addition to Alfen, project partners include the Delft University of Technology, Application Centre for Renewable Resources, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Avans University, Bredenoord, DNVGL and grid operator Alliander. The project is being supported with a subsidy from RVO-TKI Urban Energy.