Dutch proposal for cheap power on windy and sunny days
A Dutch proposal is calling for low energy prices during periods when renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power are highly productive.
Sunny and windy months would drastically lower what you have to pay to your power company, if the distribution network operators in the Netherlands have anything to say about it.
The operators, who are responsible for transporting energy to your home or business, are collectively calling for flexible rates, tied to the amount of wind and sun.
In periods with lots of sun and wind, electricity would become much cheaper than it is now. If the solar panels and wind turbine farms in the Netherlands are productive enough, electricity could even be free at times.
More renewable energy produced locally
The Dutch distribution network operators, such as Stedin, Alliander and Enexis, want to better coordinate supply and demand now that there are a steadily increasing number of local sources of renewable energy production.
Promoting local usage in the Netherlands
The initiative has a two-fold aim. The first goal is to encourage the development of more green energy. The second is to promote and enable the local usage of the electricity that’s generated by solar panels and wind turbines.
Currently the electricity grid in the Netherlands has one-way traffic for the most part, from the power plant to the end user. In recent years and in part due to government incentives, local energy production has increased significantly.
For example, rooftop solar panels can be found all over the Netherlands and in 2014 their collective output exceeded 1 gigawatt. That is enough to power 225.000 households. For this reason, the operators want two-way traffic on the power grids.
This is needed to bring the locally produced energy onto the national electricity network, when the local supply exceeds the local demand for energy.
Reaching max capacity
The power grid in the Netherlands was not designed to handle much more locally produced power than it currently is doing.
The infrastructure investments required for increased two-way traffic range in the tens of billions of euros for new powerlines that would have to be installed all over the country. One way to avoid such a massive investment is to keep the locally produced energy local.
Local energy storage
To enable more local usage of power, a solution has to be found for storing electricity locally. There are a number of different approaches that are being investigated for this.
In Utrecht, for example, batteries of electric cars are used as an energy buffer when the vehicle is not in use.