German energy retailer, RWE, developed the "Technology Stepping Stone" allowing interested companies to test and develop their products and technologies within the smart grid infrastructure
German energy retailer RWE developed the Technology Stepping Stone, which allowed interested companies to test and develop their products and technologies within the smart grid infrastructure

In Europe, a new pilot study has revealed that the Netherlands can save up to €3.5 million by deploying smart grid technology.

The pilot called 'PowerMatching City' is a living lab smart grid demonstration involving 40 households that utilised solar panels, combined heat and power plants and heat pumps to generate their own electricity, heat and water.

The government-subsidised project began in 2007 as part of the EU-funded INTEGRAL programme, with the aim of developing, building and demonstrating an integrated smart grid solution near the city of Groningen, a main municipality in the Netherlands.

Pilot project phase 1 and 2

During the first phase of the pilot, the research team fitted 25 households with a mix of decentralised energy sources (PV and microCHP), hybrid heat pumps, smart appliances and other smart grid technologies, including smart meters as well as electric transport.

The second phase of the PowerMatching city, which began in 2011, focused on the development and demonstration of business service models based on real-time pricing.

The project also demonstrated capacity management and control of a distribution station by scaling-up the living lab to 40 households with an increase in the number of households in a single street.

German energy retailer RWE developed an open platform - the Technology Stepping Stone - allowing third parties to test and demonstrate innovative technology and smart grid solutions in a real-life demonstration environment.

According to project partner DNV GL at a symposium on the smart grid test held last week, the consensus was that the energy systems demonstrated were found to be "feasible and made sense financially".

The study added that: "These benefits are based in part on money saved by the grid operators by avoiding costs for investments in and maintenance of existing energy grids.

"On the other hand, energy providers will be able to manage their customers' energy consumption more effectively so they will be able to purchase energy for more competitive wholesale prices.

"Energy providers will also be able to use locally generated energy to match local supply and demand, which also saves costs."