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The Netherlands to test Smart-Energy Homes

The smart energy grid system is being trialled in the Dutch city of Breda, the Netherlands, where 300 new houses have been built using this new technology.

The two-year pilot project will test whether a home decked out in smart-energy tech with access to multiple energy sources, not just the electric grid, is the answer to energy savings.

Through a partnership with Netherlands grid operator Enexis, power company Greenchoice, and housing developer Heja, more than 300 homes have been built incorporating the latest energy-saving technologies. The pilot program, called Jouw Energie Moment (Your Energy Moment), could determine how people in the Netherlands choose to handle home energy management and building design going forward.

The Meulenspie development consists of 57 energy-neutral homes, while the Easy Street development consists of 246 apartments. Prices for the Meulenspie homes start at 205,000 euros ($297,000) for a small two-bedroom home and go up to 569,000 euros ($823,000) for the largest four-bedroom. Prices for Easy Street begin at 139,000 euros ($201,000) for a one-bedroom apartment with balcony, and go to 195,000 euros ($282,000) for the largest two-bedroom corner apartments.

Both the houses and apartments include solar panels, smart appliances, smart metering, and an interactive computer monitoring system. Some have the option of a charging station for an electric car.

The project involves 246 apartments with woodstoves and solar panels and 57 houses with heat pumps and solar panels, to be completed in 2012. In each home, smart devices like a smart electricity meter or a smart washing machine will be installed, connected to a smart energy computer. Besides giving residents information about the energy they use and produce, it collects their preferences and controls all devices as efficiently as possible.

Enexis’ main purpose is to explore how much people are willing to use electricity in a flexible way in order to save money and the environment. The outcome shows us how we can integrate sustainable energy, like solar panels, into the grid and meet growing demands.

In this smart network, the washing machine, logged into an online weather channel, knows exactly when the sun shines or when the price of power on the energy exchange APX -ENDEX is most favourable. For example: it could be more efficient to do your laundry at night and not in the evening. Or maybe it’s best to do it during the day, when solar panels produce power.

Enexis emphasizes that with this pilot it wants to contribute to a transition to sustainable power. Project manager Joris Knigge of the innovation department: “This is an example of proactive development of a smart grid. Our company, together with the others involved, prepares itself for the future. On the other hand, we ask ourselves if consumers are ready for this. That’s what this test will show.”

Enexis is an independent energy distribution network operator in seven Dutch provinces, responsible for the development, construction, control, maintenance and management of distribution networks. It is headquartered in Rosmalen and connects 2.6 million customers to their power companies.

Source: Enexis