The KEMA energy consultancy, testing and certification organisation has partnered with Dutch energy research centre ECN, advanced software company Humiq and utility Essent to create a living ‘smart grid’ demonstration community. The ‘PowerMatching City’, located in Hoogkerk, the Netherlands, is the first microgrid project in Europe to integrate a full-scale, operational “smart” residential community energy system. The community includes 25 interconnected residential homes equipped with micro-cogeneration units, hybrid heat pumps, PV solar panels, smart appliances and electric vehicles, and additional community-based power produced by a wind farm and a gas turbine.

The project, which went live on 10 March, is the culmination of a two-year planning, implementation, and residential technology and equipment installation process which seeks to develop a market model for a smart grid, creating an industry reference standard to help enable wide-scale smart grid implementation. In the live phase, research into the community members’ energy use behaviour will be undertaken to gain insight into the “smart” energy consumer. Data will be collected on how, how much and when electricity is used and analysed to explore consumer willingness to exchange comfort for flexibility based on financial incentives.

Distributed generation

KEMA confidently predicts that the years ahead will see enormous growth in distributed electricity generation. Homes, neighbourhoods and business parks will increasingly both generate and consume electricity. This will result in two-way or even multi-way energy traffic between homes and businesses, and among neighborhoods and energy companies. The power grids of the future also will have to accommodate large-scale wind farms and widespread use of electric transport. As a result, significant changes to the energy infrastructure are needed, inlcuding the superimposition of the smart grid concept.


For the trial in Hoogkerk, twenty-five homes were virtually interconnected and provided with micro-CHP systems, hybrid heat pumps, PV panels, smart meters, electric transport and smart household appliances. In these homes, for example, the washing machines come on only when the electricity price is at its lowest – e.g. when there is a surplus of solar energy. Together, the homes form a virtual power plant. As well as generating their own electricity, they are connected to a wind farm, so that the network integration of renewable energy can be studied. Since the supply of renewable energy does not always match the demand – because, for example, it is calm or overcast when a lot of energy is wanted, or vice versa – a co-ordination mechanism is used. This mechanism makes use of the PowerMatcher , an appliance that matches supply and demand.