The Layered Energy Ecosystem

LE en IoE platform

Mission

TROEF aims to provide a meaningful contribution to a CO2-free future for the Netherlands. The parties in the TROEF consortium all contribute to a joint effort toward lowering the costs of the transition to more sustainability and achieving an internet of energy based on energy communities, in which participants are rewarded for their contributions to a healthy, sustainable, and connected environment.

Targets

  • Demonstrable sustainability by using energy at times when sustainable energy is available.
  • Lower costs by rewarding users for their contribution to balance on the electrical grid.
  • Connection with the energy community and working together towards accelerating the transition to sustainability make sharing energy, collectively generating and storing possible.

We will achieve this by connecting users to the internet of energy. Users will have access to a platform for sharing sustainable energy. We believe that collaboration, transparency, and a comprehensive approach will lead to an acceleration in the energy transition. Within (local) communities, sharing knowledge, energy, and services will be the key to accomplishing a healthy, sustainable, and connected environment.

Steps

  • We start in a limited area or from a single building. A scan will provide insight into the current carbon footprint, energy use, and costs.
  • Connecting to the platform.
  • Sharing energy within the (local) energy communities and with other communities.
  • The energy community can be expanded with new participants. Every sustainability measure will provide benefits to not just the user, but also the community. As a result, it becomes easier to take new steps.

A new layered energy ecosystem in which energy is exchanged optimally in order to achieve the lowest possible CO2 emissions

The demands set for the sustainability of buildings are getting higher and higher, laws are changing and selecting appropriate solutions can be difficult. Can improving on sustainability actually be lucrative? Is renewable energy enough? At the same time, buildings often generate energy themselves. And as a result of new mobility, generating locally and working from home, a building’s energy use is becoming more and more difficult to predict.

The amount of sustainable energy available is increasing, but its generation is (more) difficult to anticipate and manipulate. Yet when it is available, it should be used. However, the world of sustainable energy generators does not communicate properly with its consumers. This results in an ever-growing imbalance between the supply and demand of energy, which in turn makes it harder to facilitate the transition to sustainability at an acceptable price.

Users and buildings can accelerate the energy transition by playing active parts in energy communities. A transition is required in which we move from ‘connection’ to ‘access’. This can be achieved only if we accurately assess users’ needs: a healthy and sustainable building, but also return on investments. So, we are working towards a new energy ecosystem in which we use the right energy in the moment that it is available, we make the source of energy demonstrable, and we provide access to a community. As a result, users will be rewarded for their contributions to the energy transition.

TROEF aims to develop a new layered energy ecosystem, including all the corresponding systems, tools, and business models. These can be used to achieve an optimal exchange of energy with other buildings and areas in the Netherlands, in order to ultimately achieve the lowest CO2 emissions possible.

Local Energy Community and Internet of Energy platform
TROEF is developing a layered energy ecosystem, consisting of:

  • An LE platform (Local Energy Community) to be used for the exchange of energy between buildings in a local energy community;
  • An interfacing technique to link buildings to the LE platform;
  • An Internet of Energy platform (IoE) to connect multiple local energy communities
  • Dashboards that display the achieved CO2 reduction, flexibility values, peak reduction, energy use and energy value

CO2 reduction

TROEF is committed to an integrated, inclusive proposition in the areas of sustainability, energy exchange, and flexibility. Here, demonstrable sustainability plays an important part: where is my energy coming from? A decentralized blockchain track and trace system enables the exchange of energy and CO2 between all parties participating in TROEF’s layered energy ecosystem. This is a system that would no longer require a central entity that can potentially create barriers through of pricing or preferences for matching. Blockchain technology allows organizations to settle business transactions without a need for a trusted intermediary party (decentralized ecosystem).

Why a layered energy ecosystem

The transition to a carbon free energy system reveals three main developments. In the first place, the energy system is transitioning from a system in which energy is generated centrally to a system in which sustainable energy is generated using various decentralized sources, as with wind energy and solar energy. Secondly, this decentralized, weather-dependent energy generation creates a new requirement for the energy ecosystem: a transition from production that is driven by demand to purchasing and storing energy as the supply dictates. Lastly, a system in which purchasing is driven by the supply and energy needs to be stored necessitates smart energy management in buildings (both residential and utility). The progression to intelligently managed buildings that constitute an active part of the energy system is stimulated by European legislations, such as the ‘Smart Readiness Indicator’ for buildings (see EU directive EPBD 2018/844/EU). This indicator is used to measure the extent to which buildings use information and communication technologies to align the energy use of the building to the demands of both the users and the electricity grid in the most efficient way possible.

Owners of commercial and residential properties play an important role in these developments. A utility building or residential property (hereafter: building) provides the opportunity for decentralized energy generation, for instance through the use of solar panels. Moreover, buildings contain thermal mass, which can be used to store energy. The ability to contain energy within a building can be improved through isolation measures, which the government both stimulates and mandates. And the possibilities for storing energy can be increased further by introducing technical components, such as batteries for electricity, or water buffers for heating and warm water in buildings. Yet these steps are not enough to reach far-reaching improvements in the sustainability of built environments. This is due to five issues that arise with the transition to an energy system without CO2:

  • It takes a long time for far-reaching sustainability measures to accumulate a return (> 5 years);
  • The current electrical grid is not designed for the transport of large quantities of locally generated energy;
  • The traditional energy system is constructed in a linear way, from production to a building’s electricity meter;
  • Users do not have sufficient insight into the potential future increase in value that introducing sustainability measures in their building can create and do not receive sufficient guidance in the process of transitioning to sustainability;
  • Users do not gain enough of an advantage from sustainability measures, because of the contradictory incentives in our current traditional and linear energy system.

The Local Energy Platform for local energy communities in the energy infrastructure

The solution TROEF aspires to is the development of a layered energy ecosystem (see figure 2). Residences and utility buildings will be connected to their environments by constructing local energy communities. Each local energy community consists of a number of residences and/or utility buildings that are in close physical proximity to each other and has a local energy production and energy demand. Electric vehicles may also be added to these local energy communities, as local assets that contribute to the transport of energy between communities. Within a local energy community, energy can be exchanged between buildings (residences, utility buildings or electric vehicles) through the development of a local energy platform (LE platform). This platform will embed a building into its environment and assign it an active role in the new energy ecosystem. It will not only allow buildings to exchange any surplus of energy generated with other buildings in the energy community, but will also help regulate a building’s systems in such a way that both the production and the use of energy can be synchronized to the demands for the energy generation and energy use of other buildings in the energy community, and the capacity limits of the electrical grid.

The Internet of Energy platform

Local energy communities are connected to each other through an Internet of Energy platform (IoE platform), which allows for a surplus of energy generated to be exchanged with other energy communities and for optimal use of the energy that is available. Within this new energy ecosystem, energy use and energy generation are optimized at three different levels, with the aim of achieving the lowest possible CO2 emissions and energy use, at the lowest possible cost for the entire energy ecosystem.

Optimization of energy use within the building (residential or utility)

This includes operating a building’s systems (such as solar panels, heat pumps, the ATES system, the ventilation system) in coordination with the two other optimization levels and optimizing them for comfort, sustainability, and costs. TROEF is developing the tools and algorithms for this.

Optimization of energy use within a local energy community through the exchange of energy between buildings and utilizing the available electrical mobility, in such a way that the electrical grid remains balanced and congestion is avoided, and the local energy mix becomes more sustainable.

TROEF is developing an LE platform and tools for each type of local energy community, which can be used to connect buildings to each other for the purpose of energy exchanges between them.

Optimization of energy use through the exchange of energy between different local energy communities in Netherlands that have different usage profiles

Establishing a transparent connection between local energy communities opens up the possibility for working out the (local) energy mix at specific times and taking targeted actions to reduce it. Within TROEF, a new IoE platform is in development, which will be connected to the LE platforms described above, and which will be used to conduct energy exchanges, and to track energy flows between local energy communities on the grid, using blockchain technology.