We have already provided many homes with sustainable installations. As a result, most of these homes are now energy neutral or even completely off grid. These are nice moves: we are going in the right direction! But we think it can be done even better, more efficiently and smarter. As far as we are concerned, smart grid living is the future. For more information visit DHA Files Rates.
Energy neutral and off grid living
Let’s first zoom in on the two terms that are already gaining ground in the Netherlands. We also call it energy neutral NOM (zero on the meter) . If you live in an energy-neutral way, you live without gas and you generate just as much energy as you consume. An example of this is this pyramid house. Off grid goes one step further. An off grid house is completely self-contained. The house not only generates its own energy, but is also not connected to a sewerage system, mains power, water and/or gas pipes. Thanks to increasingly smarter technologies, this is sustainably possible.
What does smart grid living mean?
We hear the term smart grid more and more often. An average off grid home is ‘stand alone’, which means that it is self-sufficient, but only for itself. A smart grid home is in most cases completely self-sufficient, but also works together with other houses. A group of homes (from tiny houses, for example, but this can also be a residential area or an apartment complex) shares its installations, such as solar panels, heat pump and storage battery. And these installations all work together smartly. A smart grid system ensures the generation, storage and delivery of energy in a very smart and efficient way. It ensures that the energy is always there, where it is most needed. If you are not at home, but your neighbor is, the energy (often generated with solar panels) goes to her. In addition, the development of batteries is going very fast: there are increasingly smarter systems to also store the energy. This is useful for days when you generate more than you consume. In this way you do not have to supply the energy back to the grid, and you can therefore be completely independent of suppliers. The smart grid is your personal energy supplier.
As far as we are concerned, smart grid living goes much further than generating energy. Because, as mentioned earlier, you can also share your other installations with your neighbors. In a neighborhood of tiny houses, think of one communal outbuilding, in which you install a heat pump and meter cupboard. You can also create a separate room for this in an apartment complex. You could even share a holistic ventilation system by having all houses connected to a greenhouse with air-purifying plants (we are experimenting with this ourselves!).
The benefits of smart grid recede
If you live in a smart grid neighbourhood, you are independent and self-sufficient. This comes with quite a few benefits, for you and nature.
- Smart grid living is very sustainable . A system like this is always gasless. Usually you generate all the energy you need yourself. In addition, such a system usually has off-grid installations, so that you make circular use of your own water. In this way you really live in balance with nature .
- You save a lot of costs , because you collectively share your off-grid installations with local residents. In addition, you also save costs because you generate all the energy yourself: so you no longer spend any (or very few) amounts on energy suppliers. In such a self-sufficient neighbourhood, in some cases you don’t even have to pay a water board tax, because it is possible not to use that general facility either.
- As mentioned earlier, a smart grid system has a very smart and efficient power distribution . This is because you generate and share it yourself. The energy goes to the point that asks for it. In addition, you have an overview of the amount of energy you generate, so you know exactly what the peak hours are and when it is best to run your dishwasher, for example.
- Are you partly connected to the grid, and do you also have a local battery where you store energy? Then you prevent that you are without power in the event of failures on the grid.
Smart grid living projects
We are facing a huge housing shortage in the Netherlands. Because smart grid neighborhoods are sustainable and you save costs, we think that there will be more and more of these neighborhoods in the near future. We also have smart grid plans with our studio CABIN ! Fortunately, we are not the only ones involved in this kind of innovative development. A like-minded company in Denmark is Space10 . They made a small demo of a smart grid neighborhood called SolarVille , where the residents would share solar energy together. They also assume that you can create sustainable living options by combining smart technologies. Another example is The Urban Village Project , in which they suggest how we can live comfortably, affordably and sustainably. We were recently involved in a project around Prattenburg in Rhenen. Here we wanted to create a recreational area of sustainable houses.
All houses would work together with a smart grid with one large heat pump, which was placed in an outbuilding together with the meter cupboard. The solar panels on the houses were connected to this. Unfortunately, this project is canceled because it has not received permission from the municipality. A project that does have the green light is Hans and Josée’s tiny bungalow . We build the bungalow from A to Z, including off-grid installations and a smart system in which the electric car functions as an extra battery for the home. This is not collective, but could be. As a community you can purchase a few electric cars, which you share. To drive in, but also to provide the homes with energy. Whether this is possible depends in particular on the amount of energy you need in your home. But we like to look at this kind of innovative and creative solutions.
The future of sustainable living
We are currently in a transition. We are making more and more homes energy-neutral, which is a great step towards sustainable living. But as far as we are concerned, the future lies in smart grid living in neighbourhoods, with (off grid) homes that work together in a smart way. Especially with the new nitrogen policy, it is good to look at the possibilities that smart grid neighborhoods offer us. Not everyone for themselves, but all together. This is increasingly possible due to the enormous leaps that technology is making. Take, for example, the various batteries that are currently being developed to store sustainable energy. As these developments progress, it will become increasingly sustainable and affordable to go off-grid.
Heat pumps and solar panels are also becoming smarter (for example, think of the optimizers in combination with smart inverters that we always install in combination with solar panels these days). We are also very curious about the developments surrounding ITER , the project in France in which they are trying to create a nuclear fusion reactor . This could be a kind of sun on Earth, providing many with clean energy. And speaking of sun on earth: have you seen the Urban Sun by studio Roosegaarde yet ?We are following all these developments closely. We integrate the latest technologies in beautiful designs with a high level of living comfort. And we continue to work with nature. Because even with smart grid homes with off grid installations, it remains important to view the whole holistically . First look at what beautiful nature has to offer, determine how we can work with it, and only then start building and installing.