Thursday, April 21, 2011

Solar Powered Washing Machine Knows When Sun Shines

The new solar powered washing machine makes the most of the sunshine with smart grid. The system is being trialled in the Dutch city of Breda, where 300 new houses have been built using this new technology. Creators hope that testing it in this way will not only help to develop the technology, but also help them to understand how people use it.

The pilot is initiated by grid operator Enexis, in cooperation with power company Greenchoice and development corporation HEJA. Using special devices, residents of two neighbourhoods in Breda are able to select the most favourable time for using energy, which can be the cheapest or the most sustainable. A special website informs them about this. The test lasts for 2 years and will show if people are prepared to use these options or not.

The project involves 246 apartments with woodstoves and solar panels and 57 houses with heat pumps and solar panels, to be completed in 2012. In each home, smart devices like a smart electricity meter or a smart washing machine will be installed, connected to a smart energy computer. Besides giving residents information about the energy they use and produce, it collects their preferences and controls all devices as efficiently as possible.

Enexis' main purpose is to explore how much people are willing to use electricity in a flexible way in order to save money and the environment. The outcome shows us how we can integrate sustainable energy, like solar panels, into the grid and meet growing demands.

In this smart network, the washing machine, logged into an online weather channel, knows exactly when the sun shines or when the price of power on the energy exchange APX -ENDEX is most favourable. For example: it could be more efficient to do your laundry at night and not in the evening. Or maybe it's best to do it during the day, when solar panels produce power.

Enexis emphasizes that with this pilot it wants to contribute to a transition to sustainable power. Project manager Joris Knigge of the innovation department: "This is an example of proactive development of a smart grid. Our company, together with the others involved, prepares itself for the future. On the other hand, we ask ourselves if consumers are ready for this. That's what this test will show."

Enexis is an independent energy distribution network operator in seven Dutch provinces, responsible for the development, construction, control, maintenance and management of distribution networks. It is headquartered in Rosmalen and connects 2.6 million customers to their power companies.


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