September 20, 2020

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Tax free, cost free and maintenance free houseboats from Amsterdam


“ITWM” developed a new energy management system where photovoltaic systems, battery storage systems, heat pumps and electric cars are connected with each other.

The amount of energy generated fluctuates from renewable energy sources. The new ITWM energy management system should now compensate for this. Various energy systems such as battery storage, photovoltaic systems and heat pumps are intelligently coupled. In this way, households and entire energy quarters despite fluctuations should be supplied with their own renewable energy. The Fraunhofer researchers are targeting houseboats in the Netherlands as a research object.

Renewable energy for houseboats

Who doesn’t know them: The popular houseboats in the Netherlands. They simply belong to the image of the country. There is a settlement in Amsterdam called “Houseboats 2.0”. The quarter is made up of 30 floating houses. The special thing about this settlement is the energy supply, because the houseboats are supplied by regenerative energy. A smart system ensures that the houseboats are connected to each other so that the houses can take care of themselves. There is only a single, shared network connection that is available for bad weather days.

The innovative Amsterdam settlement uses the energy management system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM and other partners. Project manager Matthias Klein explains: “We have further developed our existing energy management system for individual houses into an energy management system for entire energy communities.” According to Klein, the system controls photovoltaic systems, heat pumps and fills the battery storage. Even batteries in electric cars charge using technology. This is a big challenge because the energy system has to work even on bad days with little sun. It becomes even more difficult in the winter months because the energy should then also be sufficiently available. One of the biggest challenges that must be mastered is that the common network connection is not overloaded under these conditions

Fraunhofer relies on modules to set up energy management. This means that each module can also be installed individually. You can think of it as a “hub for energy”. The intelligent system analyzes where the energy should go and where it is not needed. In total, the Amsterdam houseboat settlement consists of 30 heat pumps, 30 photovoltaic systems and 30 energy stores. All systems are networked together like a huge system. The following example illustrates how smart the energy system works.

Residents from house A go on vacation and require almost no energy during this period. In family B there is a family celebration, the electricity consumption increases. The energy from the photovoltaic system flows from house A to the neighboring houseboat. The advantage: very little electricity is consumed by the network operator. If it is already dark outside at the time of the party, the system uses the energy storage, provided the system itself can no longer supply electricity. All of this takes place across the house.

Charge the electric car via the app

The researchers also planned to drive an electric car. “The residents can use an app to indicate with a click which minimum charge level they currently want for their car,” says Klein. Electric cars need to be supplied with energy best of all when the photovoltaic systems generate enough electricity. Every houseboat owner can decide how much energy is needed. If 50% is enough to just drive into the city center, this can be entered via the app. If the user connects his car to the charging station, the electric car is charged to the specified value. If the sun is shining over Amsterdam, the system continues charging via this value. However, if the energy is flat, the charge is postponed to a later point in time. This regulation greatly relieves the energy grid. Turntable for energy interesting for many buildings. The modular structure of the energy system enables flexible use. There are already around 70 installations, says Klein. Whether for private households, canteens or sewage treatment plants: Numerous building types already rely on the hub for energy from the Fraunhofer Institute. In Amsterdam, the system is already shifting power peaks up to 250 kilowatts.