The “Hydro-energy Power-Station” solution explores new and innovative ways of generating and storing sustainable energy, currently there are not a lot of solutions in place in Flanders. With this project we aim to revise current installations and bring them up-to-date with todays possibilities in smart energy management, as well as implement those innovative technologies into new sites. These technologies offer a two-sided benefit, on the one hand, we reduce combustion energy generation to a minimum by focusing on green sustainable energy generation and storage. On the other hand, by producing your own energy, businesses can save significant amounts on their energy bills. These two benefits translate into our vision of an Eco²Realistic business case, where economic and ecologic advantages go hand in hand.
On top of the Eco²Realistic business case, there’s the social aspect these sites can provide. There is an increasing need for energy-neutral sites/buildings to perform a grid balancing role, as pointed out by Sartori et al. These sites with their energy storage and generation are ideally fit to help sustain a future were power outages like predicted in November 2018 are irrelevant in Flanders, due to different sites supporting each other in their energy usage. This project doesn’t aim solely for large construction projects, also smaller scale construction, e.g. apartment buildings, can easily benefit. The goal is having almost all sites, and everyone use some kind of generation and/or storage, making Flanders a macro-microgrid.
Contractors in- and outside of the Flemish region will see the added value created by developing a hydro-energy Power-Station. If just saving on the monthly energy bill is not enough, imagine a site going down due to a blackout, by generating your own energy and storing it, blackouts become largely irrelevant. Employees will always be able to continue working. in worst case scenarios, where a blackout lasts hours or a day, production will not come to a halt but be able to continue operation. For example, Cordeel employs about 400 people at ‘De Zaat’, cash-out it is about €400 per employee per day, this comes to €160.000 per day just to pay the employees, that can’t work. On top of this there is also the lost value in missed deadlines, products that cannot be produced, and so on proving that uptime is critical for a production site. Extending this reasoning towards the whole of Flanders, blackouts like predicted in November 2018 could be disastrous for Flanders’ economy if companies must be shut down for extended periods of time. So, avoiding blackouts not only saves the site-owner turnover, it also saves Flanders missed economy.
- By becoming a hydro-energy powered site near water (ideally with ebb and flow) site owners have the possibility to generate and store energy depending on their needs, becoming more independent from the power grid
- It eases the balancing of the net, due to easier supply-demand catering and the sites acting as regulators
- Site owner reduces his/her energy costs
- Site owner doesn’t risk losing profits in case of a blackout
- Energy generated by combustion is reduced to a minimum, only used as a last resort
- Lots of potential sites can implement one or more parts of the concept
The combination of different renewable energy technologies on such a large scale is related to the innovator zone ‘Energy Harbours’. The use of hydro storage in existing and new infrastructure is an innovative concept that hasn’t been explored often before in the region. This project will prove to be a proof of concept for other harbours to function as a Power-Station, several ports worldwide has already shown their interest in the concepts set forth by this project.
Furthermore, this project, together with its sister-project, usage-driven Power-Station, fits very well within the cell of innovation on microgrids, the entire project will be able to not only sustain itself, but also function as a grid balancer and a supplier for the grid. Furthermore, there is the opportunity to work together with other companies on a site. At the site ‘De Zaat’ another company, AIMS Tools, is already occupying store space. Working with different companies gives the benefit of exploiting each companies’ potential, e.g. one may have a good way to store energy, another may be able to easily generate excess energy, the synergy is clear and ready to be exploited.
Multi-energy Solutions at district level
Also, the innovator zone ‘Multi-energy Solutions at district level’ describes the need for what this project can solve, having multi-energy solutions that offer scale benefits and allow for optimal integration of sustainable energy sources, optimal energy storage, a reduced energy demand and great exchange opportunities between the energy flows, the latter is also illustrated in figure 4. This means the sites function as power grid regulator fits nicely within this innovator zone’s concepts.
Energy Cloud Platforms
The energy sources and storage options are integrated into the Energy Technology Centre Platform, built in the related project “usage-driven Power-Station”. This connection is data driven and links to the Energy Cloud Platform where software developments will lead to steering and controlling the storage of the self-produced renewable energy, fitting nicely into the innovator zone ‘Energy Cloud Platforms’.
Lastly, also the fifth zone, ‘Intelligent Renovation’ applies to this project, as the aim is to renovate the existing buildings present at ‘De Zaat’.