An amazing new solar energy trial program taking place in Breda, The Netherlands, is going to test the usability of the smart grid by plugging in washing machines and giving 300 home owners the option to choose between running their appliance when it is either cheapest, or most sustainable.
The test: choosing sustainable energy or not
The smart grid operating in Breda, Enexis, partnered with a power company called Greenchoice to build 300 custom homes equipped with solar panels and a new technology that gives homeowners two options to run their energy-intensive appliances – either when energy is the cheapest (ie. during downtimes at night), or when the energy is most sustainable (ie. midday if it’s sunny). To help make their decisions, homeowners will be granted access to a website that provides insight into the most energy efficient time, depending on the weather.
The test will last for two years in two different neighbourhoods, and is meant to show whether people are really ready to switch to using the smart grid yet or not.
State of the art solar technology and smart grid
The most brilliant part of the system is the smart grid / washing machine combination. By being plugged into an online weather channel, the washing machine “knows” whether it’s sunny out or not, and therefore whether the price of solar power on the energy exchange is lower than usual. If it is, the washing machine knows it is a more favourable time to wash a load, and makes use of the solar power. However, if it’s a cloudy day, the washing machine will know that running at night time will be more energy efficient.
Transitioning to alternative energy
This test program by Enexis and Greenchoice will be a great pilot program to show the pros and cons of the smart grid, and how our homes (and appliances) can make the best uses of solar power and other alternative energy sources. Let’s hope that over the next 2 years, the test program shows that homeowners really are ready to make the plunge into alternative energy, and smart grid and smart appliance programs like this start being rolled out globally.