Texel: laboratory for a cleaner future
With Yvonne Brzesowsky-Ruys,
former Business segment leader Energy, Utilities, Chemicals (EUC), Capgemini Netherlands
Texel: laboratory for a cleaner future
More than a concept, Cloud Power is a revolution in the way we manage energy consumption and promote renewable energies at the local level. Let’s sail to the island of Texel, off the coast of the Netherlands, which is becoming a laboratory for a cleaner future with the help of Capgemini.
A lot can come from a little vision. Back in 2011, on the island of Texel off the coast of the Netherlands, that vision came in the form of an inspiring goal to confront the problem of global warming. This tiny, 585 km2 piece of land in the North Sea with just 14,000 inhabitants hopes to become totally energy neutral by 2020.
The island authorities have set their sights on reducing the territory’s energy consumption and achieving self-sufficiency via renewable energies. Their ambition is very attainable: whether solar, wind, tidal energy or biomass, the island of Texel boasts an exceptional geographic position in terms of access to clean energy resources.
All that’s left to achieve this objective is to create a communal electrical grid. But not just any grid! That’s where Capgemini comes in.
Cloud Power, a self-sufficient energy community
“It was one of our engineers who came up with the idea for Cloud Power ,” says Yvonne Brzesowsky-Ruys, then Segment Leader for Energy, Utilities and Chemicals at Capgemini. “We went to meet the island authorities, along with the local energy company Texel Energy, to pitch the idea of testing out this new approach with them.”
Cloud Power is a bona fide innovation: “Cloud Power empowers a community to take care of their own energy management. The solution supports insights in availability and demand for energy and delivers a demand response system to households. It is a perfect opportunity to support the cooperation ‘Texel Energie’ to reach their goals towards making Texel Energy self-sufficient in 2020” continues Brzesowsky-Ruys.
“This is a solution aimed at a limited number of households, which define the energy criteria they wish to prioritize: type of energy used, price differences, use of equipment at specific times, desired energy savings, etc. The community defines its own rules and operates in a self-sufficient manner. Each household is free to join or not. Meanwhile, the operator is obliged to meet everyone’s demands,” explains Brzesowsky-Ruys.
The trend in the energy sector is towards local energy management and personalized services. That is what Cloud Power delivers: the possibility to respond locally to the specific needs of consumer groups.
Three layers of intelligence
Operating this system requires intelligence—lots and lots of intelligence. It is deployed on three levels: a Home Energy Management System (HEMS) in each household, smart sensors installed on individual equipment, and an Energy Management System (EMS) run by the operator.
“Each community member configures the HEMS based on his or her individual preferences. The HEMS then defines a daily equipment operations plan that accounts for the most favorable hours, best prices and available energy resources: solar, wind or biomass. For the energy supplier, the EMS operates all necessary equipment, such as wind turbines or solar panels, according to weather conditions,” explains Brzesowsky-Ruys.
With Cloud Power, it is now possible to manage energy resources in real time based on weather conditions, adapt energy consumption from one hour to the next, import energy in case of consumption spikes and export energy if the opposite is the case. “The three management levels interact continuously based on demand,” says Brzesowsky-Ruys.
Tested in 280 pilot households from 2011 to 2012, Cloud Power has had its fair share of difficulties as any innovative project has. It was a bumpy road from getting the subsidy and financing to getting the right partners in a consortium to start to deliver the solution. The first two partners selected to deliver equipment abandoned the project.
Capgemini worked alongside the director of Texel Energy and the DSO to make all happen... “But what a privilege to set up such innovative technology—the first real smart grid project undertaken by Capgemini! And what a joy to see the impact on energy consumption and the cooperation from the households. With Cloud Power, I felt like I was peering into the future—a cleaner future!” concludes Brzesowsky-Ruys.