TNO starts building Smart Community Aruba

TNO starts building Smart Community Aruba

TNO will begin building a Smart Community in Aruba, a sustainable energy neighbourhood of 20 homes being designed and built in cooperation with local stakeholders, companies and the Aruban government. Local partners will be using this “laboratory” to develop knowledge on the sustainable supply of energy, something they can extend themselves in the future. The neighbourhood must become energy self-sufficient. The knowledge and experience gained now can also be used in the future for the incorporation of large-scale renewable energy in the larger grids of, for instance, the Netherlands and Europe.

The main challenge is to align the demand and supply of energy using smart-grid solutions. Solutions and learning experiences gained here offer the foundation for scaling this up elsewhere on Aruba and on other Caribbean islands. Aruba is an attractive living labs site because the abundant potential for renewable energy (solar and wind) is already close to the technical limits of incorporating renewable energy. Aruba aims to have 50% of its energy sustainably generated by 2020.

Challenge for renewable energy use
Getting renewable energy used in the energy system presents a key challenge since the supply of renewable energy is not constant and can cause voltage fluctuations in the grid. If these become excessive, the grid will become overloaded or deficient. So the voltage fluctuations have to be compensated using ICT, smart equipment (that switches on or off depending on the amount of electricity available) and storage options (like electric cars). The end user is closely involved in all the technical developments in Smart Community Aruba. After all, the changes have a considerable impact on the daily life of the end user and, vice versa, the end user’s actions have a lot of influence on the way technological innovations progress.

Opportunities for companies
The Smart Community is a platform that offers companies the chance to test their sustainable innovations in a real-life environment. The neighbourhood has been built in a modular way, which enables companies to link up either now or in the future. Aruba is a particularly attractive location given its available energy sources. As part of the EU, the country uses the Dutch system of law. Moreover, the country has close links with its near neighbour, the US, and the current Aruban Cabinet is an enthusiastic champion of sustainability. Aruba is thus the perfect springboard for markets in the US and South America.

What makes Smart Community Aruba unique?
The sustainable neighbourhood will be built in cooperation with local stakeholders, companies and the Aruban government. TNO is thus contributing to the local level of knowledge in the areas of energy supply and sustainable building. The sustainable neighbourhood offers opportunities for learning programmes and thus the accumulation of local knowledge. To this end TNO has established the Green faculty to facilitate training and education with local Aruban and international educational partners. Future for the Netherlands and the EU?

In Europe, too, we want to boost the percentage of renewable energy in our energy supply. The current grid and relatively modest share of sustainable generation can still be managed within the current system. However, the more the renewable energy component increases, the more one will come up against the same challenges that are facing Aruba in aligning demand and supply. This gives Aruba the opportunity to become a leader in the use of renewable energy in a reliable and affordable grid. Solutions developed on the island can be scaled up for the larger grids of the Netherlands or Europe.

The Caribbean kingdom as a calling card for the Netherlands
Aruba is an especially attractive location for companies because as part of the EU, the country uses the Dutch system of law. Together with the country’s close links with its near neighbour, the US, and the current Aruban Cabinet’s enthusiastic championing of sustainability, Aruba is the perfect springboard for markets in the US and South America. Aruba also offers access to a pool of highly educated workers with plenty of international work experience and education. They make it easy to switch between the Dutch, Latin-American and American cultures and can be of great value to the development of the North and South American markets.

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