Local Energy Systems
The aim of the development project Local Energy Systems is to create smart grids that enable local, separated areas to become self-sufficient using renewable electricity. As a customer you will get increased control over how your electricity is produced, and hopefully become more motivated to use electricity more efficiently every day.
Large energy system today
The Swedish energy system today consists of a large central system where citizens' need for electricity and heat production is mainly covered by sources such as hydropower and thermal power. Even the power grid is tailored to this type of energy system where big "highways" of grid transport electricity to the users. The big system is cost effective but takes limited account of local conditions, and is difficult to optimize based on user needs. This type of grid therefore provides no incentives for consumers to reduce their consumption.
Local production tomorrow
By developing Local Energy Systems, we’re looking to learn more about, and develop an energy system that targets local needs and takes advantage of the unique opportunities available in each area.
An example would be to install solar panels to supply households with electricity, in combination with a boiler to generate heat. Or neighbors joining forces and buying turbines that generate energy from the wind, or from the water stream behind their house.
To optimize the model even more, unused electricity, for example (electricity produced during the day when household members are not at home) can be sold to a preschool or a retirement home nearby. The basic idea of the new system is to provide opportunities for increased involvement of renewable energy production, such as solar and wind power, based on the assets that are available locally. The production of energy should be matched to the needs of the consumers and their usage – only then can we ensure that all energy makes a difference.
Behind the local energy system is an advanced control system making it possible to control production and consumption, and to ensure power quality and that the local energy system is optimized according to the desired conditions. The control system will also gather data from the different production units, so that it is possible to follow the local electricity production.
Can there be too much electricity in the system?
There is a lot of information on what happens when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn't blow, and batteries and backup power become important. But what happens when the wind blows strong and the sun shines its warm light, yet no one is at home to cook their pasta? These are the moments when the system experiences high production but has few customers who consume the electricity. The battery or batteries will charge up pretty fast, and what happens to the electricity then?
Sales and storage of electricity
There are many solutions to this problem. The local energy system could be able to connect to the central grid and transfer the "leftover production". In the future, this would mean that the people who own the production sources in the local energy system sell production into the central market. But it is also possible to use the power locally, for example to heat up water in boilers. This way the water can be stored in tanks and be used at a later time, but it can also be used to heat a pool or in hydronic heating systems.