Location: Lochem, Gelderland, the Netherlands
Purpose: testing the capacity of the power grid
What is the maximum load that a power grid can handle? This was the key question of a test in Lochem, in the Dutch province of Gelderland, carried out by grid operator Liander. The test was carried out in conjunction with the University of Twente and the Lochem Energie local residents’ association. Twenty residents were asked to bake pizzas in their electric ovens, whilst also charging their electric vehicles on their drives. After an hour, the network became overloaded and part of the network suffered a power cut.
The test was set up to simulate the expected situation in 2025. The number of electric cars is expected to have increased considerably by then and energy demand by households will probably also show more peaks due to a higher demand for electricity. This was the first time that the power supply in the Netherlands had been tested in this way. The test gave the researchers an impression of the effects of future demand on the electricity grid and what the requirements for intelligent energy grids should be in order to prevent power outages in the future.
Capacity issues are becoming increasingly important. Just think of the emergence of electric cars; the Dutch government is aiming for one million electric cars by 2025. The supply of electricity is also becoming more complex as a result of the generation of energy by means of solar panels and wind turbines, and we are increasingly switching from natural gas to electricity.
The test in Lochem showed that a serious problem will arise if several local residents come home after work with flat batteries and want to recharge their cars whilst also using the power grid to cook their evening meals. This means that we need to align supply and demand properly in order to reduce peak loads as much as possible. A good example is smart car chargers that adapt to the supply and transport capacity available on the grid.