Grid overload & doing something about it!

This is almost a daily occurance in the Netherlands. I would get a link like this via Whatsapp, that balancing the grid is desperately needed:

ChatGPT summarized that Dutch articles as follows:

Dutch energy network operator Alliander has warned that it is struggling to keep pace with the rapid growth of solar energy in residential areas, as more people are connecting to the grid and upgrading to heavier electricity connections. The company’s subsidiary, Liander, received over 43,000 requests for heavier connections last year, double the number in 2020. Alliander said it needs to add 20,000 electricity substations and will need to carry out work on one in three streets to cope with demand, but is hampered by material and staff shortages.

Alliander warned that the rapid pace of electrification in residential areas means that “unfortunately, we cannot help all consumers and small business owners with a low-consumption connection immediately”. The company is choosing to add new connections and upgrade existing ones, even though this puts additional strain on the grid. This could cause voltage problems, ranging from brief power outages to flickering lights.

Two weeks ago, another Dutch energy network operator, Stedin, warned that it was struggling to cope with the rapid growth of solar energy, as 107,000 consumers in its area installed over 1.3 million solar panels last year. Stedin urged businesses to use more energy when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.

Almost none of these articles mention what people can actually do today. It’s true that our situation with respect to energy is becoming more dependent on the weather. But the conclusion seems to be that it’s just a problem, not an opportunity. Also, it seems like adding renewables is a problem, instead of a necessary requirement to complete the transition to sustainable energy.

It’s almost like that quote usually attributed to Mark Twain:

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

How can we make more people realize that we can all actually do something about it? Does it have to get much worse first, or should the benefits/opportunity be more clear? Do we need to make it easier?

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Easier is one thing. But people have to understand that renewables today cause our current prices, without them prices would be even higher. So more renewables mean lower energy prices. Currently in The Netherlands we have had several moments where renewables produces more than 100% of electricity used, and the grid can handle this. Sure network upgrades will be needed to get more flexibility and to a fossil fuel free situation. But for instance: if all 8 million cars in NL are battery EV tomorrow, the electricity usage would only jump 8 to 20%. Excluding effects like Pernis using a lot less. We can handle that, but we need to be smart about it. That’s where Stekker comes into play!

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Awareness is really something. I think it would help if “green electricity” can’t be sold as such, because people will assume that the electricity they consume is green if they paid for green electricity. How could we change the perception? For the Netherlands, it would it be an option to go to the AFM or Reclame Code Commissie to prevent people from doing this? Perhaps we could work with an NGO to achieve a change here.

Also, good point on refining and shipping. About 10% of all commercial vessels are transporting fossil energy, quite a large percentage. These ships consume more than their proportional share of energy and rely on bunker fuel, which is the worst of all fuels when it comes to pollution.