World’s first self-healing grid?


Grid resilience is increasingly on the utility radar as more distributed energy resources are fed into the grid. Dutch company, Alfen, believes their grid platform, which allows local parts of the grid to disconnect from the central grid and enables self-healing, may be the solution to disruptive influences.

The project is being undertaken with project partners including the Delft University of Technology, Application Centre for Renewable Resources, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Avans University, Bredenoord, DNVGL and grid operator Alliander. The development is being supported with a subsidy from RVO-TKI Urban Energy.

The Cellular Smart Grid Platform (CSGriP), divides the central grid into many small, autonomous cells.  “In case of a central grid power outage, these local cells take over control. They automatically start restoring all local sources of energy supply, such as solar and wind, and distribute this energy amongst local consumers.”

Central to this local grid scenario is an energy storage system which ensures that the balance between production and consumption is maintained. Once the grid balance within a cell is restored, it automatically reconnects to other cells and, as such, quickly rebuilds the larger power grid.

Consequently, both the duration and size of central grid power outages should be reduced significantly.

Self-healing grid in field tests

CSGriP is being field tested at the Application Centre for Renewable Resources in Lelystad, the Netherlands.

According to Evert Raaijen, Alfen energy storage specialist; “Unique about this solution is that the local cells are intrinsically stable through self-adjustment of supply and demand based on the frequency of the electricity grid. This makes the grid truly self-healing in cases of central grid outages. The self-healing mechanism based on frequencies sets it apart from many IT-related smart grids that require relatively vulnerable data and ICT connections for balancing local grids.”

The Cellular Smart Grid Platform can prepare grids that are already well-developed for a future that will be significantly more decentral and renewables-oriented.