Oud-Heverlee district battery
The district around Ophemstraat in Oud-Heverlee has really focused on renewable energy in recent years. The success of solar panels, the introduction of electric cars and a quarter of the residents who heat their homes using electricity via a water pump are living proof of these efforts. However, the interventions regularly overloaded the outdated electricity grid. In recent years, residents of Ophemstraat in Oud-Heverlee have regularly experienced burnt out coffee machines or washing machine circuit boards. The electricity grid, dating from 1970, which supplied several farms at the time, simply cannot cope with the influx of electric cars and solar panels. If the voltage in the grid diverges too much during peak times, electrical appliances are fried and a safeguard is triggered, which causes solar panels to fail. So, Th!nk E, an SME specialising in energy technology, installed the first district battery in Flanders, with the financial support of the European Commission. The battery has the storage capacity to supply nine families with power for a day. If a lot of solar power is generated during the day the battery stores the power so it can be used when people come home from work, plug in their electric car and start cooking. A (district) battery provides greater flexibility, which is important since the capricious generation profile of renewable energy does not correspond to the consumption of electricity. The district battery forms a buffer for electrical power in the neighbourhood.
The district battery in Oud-Heverlee was made possible thanks to European subsidies. At the moment it is extremely difficult to link an autonomous profitable earnings model to the use of district batteries. Since the battery is considered a standard offtake point, the same grid tariffs are paid, with a different offtake and injection tariff. The latter depends on what the electricity supplier wants to pay for it. Services the battery provides to the grid, such as preventing overloading, are not compensated yet. This means that it still costs more to use power from the battery than if electricity is fed back into the grid. In addition, replacing electric cables is still cheaper than installing a battery. In the future, new legislation will facilitate the use of district batteries on a broader scale and for multiple purposes.
Th!nk E, ABB, Imtech, Enervails
STORY Project explained by Leen Peeters
Storing excess power is important for the electricity grid. This local power storage method ensures that peak times are limited and unburdens the electricity grid.
photo: STORY (LOPTA FILM), 2018
photo: Tim Dirven, Oud - Heverlee 2021