Essent EIS, a new part of Essent, ensures that electricity, heat and cold are used as efficiently as possible at CLIC. This involves not only the generation and storage of energy, but also a smart exchange across the buildings and vehicles that enter the big city from Badhoevedorp.

Heating and cooling storage also for smart charging

Hotchandani: "The sustainable city logistics project in Badhoevedorp will have an umbrella system that links heat, cold and electrical flows." Eleven buildings that are part of CLIC will exchange energy, in the form of heat, cold and electricity, with each other so that less is lost. Only if an energy balance is not achieved within CLIC will an external source be used.

"The uniqueness of CLIC lies in the extension of the smart grid and the software to control the sustainable heat and cold solution with the platform for smart charging of electric vehicles," said Hotchandani, who coordinates all technical work around the energy system.

Power consumption peaks 30% lower

According to this Andorran-based engineer, an expert on sustainable buildings and renewable energy, the combination of systems in which everything is linked to everything else is particularly unique. He expects this to reduce peaks in electricity consumption by up to 30 per cent over time. Hotchandani: "Especially with congestion on the electricity grid around Amsterdam, this is important. The sustainable city logistics project in Badhoevedorp can set a nice example."

Apart from the peaks, overall energy consumption is also going down. Hotchandani is cautious about naming percentages. "It's just what you compare it to. In relation to traditional district heating, you're easily at 75 to 80 per cent."

Fifth-generation heat and cold network

A major contribution to energy efficiency will come from a fifth-generation heat and cold network with thermal storage. Hotchandani: "This system differs from previous generations by working with low temperatures. As a result, less heat is lost. The water temperatures in the grid have been adjusted to recover as much residual heat as possible and make optimal use of energy from the ground."

"Unlike traditional systems, the new generation works in a decentralised way," explains Essent's French-trained engineer. Generation is with heat pumps connected through a network. "From this network, which we call a grid, distribution of heat and cold, storage of energy and flexibility with a view to consumption are coordinated." Simply put, this system works as one giant thermal battery, also called an ectogrid.

Reptiles served as examples

The name ectogrid is derived from ectothermy. Hotchandani points to examples from nature. Like reptiles, fish, lizards and certain invertebrates, this energy solution adapts its 'body temperature' to conditions.

He says: "The ectogrid, the decentralised heat and cold grid, has a smart control system. This 'ectocloud', an intelligent platform, knows through sensors what is happening throughout the system. After all, data come in from all buildings, places and pipes. This data is supplemented by information from other data sources such as weather forecasts. In this way, the optimal temperatures of the grid are determined." In addition, within the same energy system, buildings with different functions exchange their excess cold or heat. If other buildings do not need this, this water can be stored in one of the two wells of the ATES in the ground.

How CHP works at CLIC

How does the WKO in Badhoevedorp work? Hotchandani: "At CLIC, a doublet-type ATES system extracts water from the ground at a depth of about 100 metres. Such a doublet uses two wells: one with heat and one with cold. It is possible to pump heat from one well to the other and vice versa. In winter, cold is stored in the cold well.

CLIC has four doublet systems, each capable of moving 150 cubic metres of water per hour. In winter, groundwater of 14 to 15 degrees is pumped from the heat source into the heat network after which injection into the cold source takes place at 6 degrees. In summer, the reverse happens. Cold from the cold source then goes to the buildings for cooling before being injected into the heat source at a temperature of 18 degrees.

Functions of CHP

A CHP has two functions. First, an electric heat pump brings the water to the right temperature. The second function is thermal storage. This is seasonal storage. In summer, heat is stored in the heat voucher, which is then used in winter. By using this heat, you can make this water cold again. The trick is in the smart use of energy sources: at what time do you use what. The optimum temperature level is determined on the basis of the anticipated energy demand, the weather and other factors.

An ATES is not a complete solution. Heat and cold sources must be connected to a heat and cold grid. This grid consists of two pipes to which each user and each generator is connected. Each of the 11 CLIC buildings contains a substation, a technical room with heat pumps and other installations.

Hybrid Energy Community System

Hotchandani: "The electrical system in CLIC is a Hybrid Energy Community System. This innovation is a project in collaboration with Liander that allows electricity connections to be controlled as a virtual smart grid and electric transmission to be controlled at the area level. Thanks to the ectocloud and the virtual smart grid, very smart energy can be shared between buildings, not only heat but also electricity. Both platforms are linked to the control of charging stations, solar panels and batteries. The hundreds of charging stations at CLIC's disposal require a lot of electrical power. The solar panels generate the electricity, while the batteries provide storage."

The smart control system with sector coupling also makes it possible to change energy forms and convert heat into electricity. "If there is a surplus of electricity, it can be stored in the thermal system to be used later and provide flexibility." Everything is controlled in the cloud. Real-time optimisation leads to more efficient consumption and storage.

Badhoevedorp ideal testing ground

According to the Essent project leader, CLIC is the perfect place to combine all these platforms and technology. In fact, the project in Badhoevedorp has a mix of buildings with functions that are complementary. These include an extended-stay hotel, offices and logistics buildings with different types of tenants. The freezer cells used by food parties release heat that can be used again in the hotel for showering.

On weekends when the offices are out of use, electricity from the solar panels on the roofs can be stored in batteries. A nice alternative is to channel this power to other buildings where electric vehicles are charged.

CLIC is a step beyond existing solutions

With data analysis, smart energy sharing and storage can be further optimised. The software is also self-learning. The algorithms are getting better and better, increasing savings. At Medicon Village, a Swedish centre where more than 1,600 people from over 160 life sciences organisations work together, E.ON (Essent's parent company) already connects 15 buildings with varying cooling and heating needs.

CLIC goes a step further by including electric vehicle charging. Essent thinks it can make the business case without additional subsidies. The first buildings will be completed by the end of 2023. CLIC will then require much less energy for heating and cooling buildings, while electrical peaks will be reduced. The system will also take care of charging cars; a wonderful prospect.