Tomorrow’s living: smart, economic, sustainable and 100 percent electric

The energy transition is in full swing

If the Netherlands and Belgium want to attain the ambitions of the Paris climate agreement, we will have to start using smart solutions. An important pillar is reducing energy consumption in our homes.

Renewable, decentralised energy production has far-reaching consequences for how we will build, renovate and furnish our homes in the future. Dutch homes can be made future-proof in different kinds of ways. From tackling the shell to adapting the installations (Trias Energetica). In addition, there are various possibilities to make real estate last an entire life cycle and make it smart. Also how we, as consumers, consume and pay for our energy will be radically transformed. We are creat-ing the energy-neutral smart homes of the future by linking systems and gaining insight into energy consumption. Only smart energy-saving solutions, linked to insight and comfort, can lead to maxi-mum energy efficiency. We have identified the following five trends in sustainable homes:

Fully electric housing

Fossil energy sources are on the way out. The downward movement started a while back for oil, and gas seems to be the next in line. The Dutch government wants one million homes to be more sus-tainable and taken off the gas grid by 2030. Since this year new homes are no longer required to have a gas connection. Future use of gas is also under discussion in Belgium.

ABB’s Smart Energy Management (SEM) modules are a response to this development. Together with our partners, we developed smart energy units with heat pump, ventilation, KWh meters and an ABB solar panel converter. The SEM module, which is also included here, takes care of the coordi-nation and optimal balance between energy demand and use within a home. The energy sustaina-bly generated by means of solar panels and the heat pump are monitored, kept within the home and optimally adjusted to the consumption.
With this innovative solution using data generation and visualisation, we provide residents with insight into their energy consumption. By constantly measuring and adjusting their energy con-sumption, SEM reduces the energy costs for the residents.

Intelligent homes

The Internet of Things makes it easier for us to link the physical world to the digital world. All objects in the house – or within smart cities even in entire neighbourhoods and cities – are interconnected and also interact with each other. More aspects of daily life which people still have to consciously think about now will happen automatically in the future.

If we make our homes more intelligent, certain aspects will automatically adapt to our personal wishes and needs. In winter the heating will be turned on the moment we leave work, in summer the air conditioning will make sure that we come home to a delightfuly cool house. Not only do we get extra comfort, we also avoid wasting energy. We are using our energy much more efficiently, and we are lowering our energy bill.

More compact batteries

Energy is no longer produced in one central location. More and more homes are using batteries that can store the energy they generate. For example, the energy from the sun and wind is no longer lost, but can be stored for use in dark and windless moments.

Batteries were – and still are – quite large, but in recent years we have seen many developments in the field of miniaturisation. With our experience in storage systems, we also play a role in this evo-lution. Home batteries also help to make our homes even more intelligent. At times when a lot of energy is stored, the intelligent systems can give the order to make additional use of it. At times when less energy is available, the intelligent home makes sure that as little energy as possible is used.

New players, new prices

Along with the energy transition, the energy market is also in full swing. Energy suppliers are devel-oping many new business models, such as energy performance contracts. But new, sometimes par-ticularly surprising players are also entering the market. A dynamic energy market is also good news for consumers. Just think of prices that can fluctuate on the basis of supply and demand.

But the biggest revolution is probably that consumers will not only produce their own energy, but will also be able to sell it (Local Energy Communities). New technologies such as blockchain make this kind of transactions easier. If we will start selling the non-consumed energy among ourselves , will we still need energy suppliers?

A centrally coordinated neighbourhood approach becomes more relevant than ever

We see that the boundaries between industry and consumers are blurring and that we have to find the best energy solutions for each neighbourhood. Factories, for example, transfer the residual heat from their installations to heat networks to supply energy to neighbouring residential areas. Data centers also stop wasting the energy they produce and make it available on the grid. The old dividing lines are disappearing, and industry and consumers are connected like never before.

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About the author

Ben Pol

Business Development Manager. Currently working on lots of developments in the Built-on environment, to discover where ABB can add value in the development of Smart Homes & Intelligent Buildings. The energy transition, as well as IoT (ABB Ability™), are his focus.
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