Renewable energy may offer emissions-free electricity, but it isn’t always easy for electrical grids to integrate that energy. Dutch company Alfen is launching their answer to the dilemma. The Cellular Smart Grid Platform (CSGriP) allows a central grid to be divided into smaller cells that can operate independently, if necessary, and even self-heal.
CSGriP provides energy from sources like biogas, solar power, or wind power for local consumers. It includes “a 0.5 megawatt energy storage system and complex algorithm used for local energy management.” Should the central grid go out, local cells would take over to restore power for local customers. According to Alfen, “Once the grid balance within a cell is restored, it automatically reconnects to other cells, and, as such, quickly rebuilds the larger power grid” to reduce the duration of central grid outages.
Alfen energy storage specialist Evert Raaijen said in a statement, “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.”
In developed countries, the point of the platform is to decentralize the grid and make it more ready for renewables. But the platform could also be deployed in developing countries that still need to be electrified, allowing them to avoid constructing central grids obtaining power from large fossil fuel-burning plants in favor of these local cells with storage systems for renewable sources.
Alfen has worked in countries from the United Kingdom to the Czech Republic to Nigeria, on projects for electric vehicle charging, transformer substations, energy storage, smart grids, and grid automation. They are currently field testing CSGriP at the Application Center for Renewable Resources in Lelystad, the Netherlands.