Technological concepts facilitating infrastructural system integration

Systeemintegratie – Hybrid Energy Infrastructures

Technological concepts facilitating infrastructural system integration
Technological concepts facilitating infrastructural system integration

This study focusses on the value of flexibility that concepts which connect infrastructures can offer and potential barriers towards unlocking this value.

Flexibility for balance

The main research question of this project is: how can hybrid energy infrastructures (electricity, gas, heat, cooling) provide flexibility to help balancing demand and supply in the electricity system.

Concepts considered should be a coupling point between at least 2 networks and should have a form of third party access (multiple users should have access to the concept regulated/negotiated).


The scope of the analysis and recommendations presented in this report includes the following:

  1. Flexibility provision to electricity network, through transformation and/or storage in other networks for transportation or distribution of gas, heating/cooling and hydrogen.
  2. Only coupled networks with a form of third party access are considered (either regulated or negotiated), as flexibility provided through coupling with private networks should be classified as demand response.


Recommendations for the innovation agenda

  1. Reconsidering the roles and responsibilities of network operators in relation to hybrid energy infrastructure concepts
  2. Explore the potential impact of RES providing flexibility to the electricity market in relation to the value of hybrid energy infrastructure concepts
  3. Validate high-potential concepts through demonstration in operational environments
  4. Development of alternative tariff structures for hybrid energy infrastructure concepts
  5. Explore the value of feedstock infrastructures in providing flexibility to the electricity grid.
  6. Impact assessment of the differences in regulatory set-ups of heat networks and other networks, regarding the impact on hybrid energy infrastructures
  7. Risk assessment of electricity system stability in relation to the current trend of electrification of heat demand in extreme meteorological scenarios

Wat hebben we ervan geleerd?

Role of Infrastructure

The electricity grid shows persistent growth in all scenarios, increasing volatility and increasing “seasonal gap” in residual load could add up to 6,5 GW residual hourly load in 2030 (compared to 2 GW residual hourly load in 2012).

  1. Distribution gas network utilization is expected to be lowered significantly because of electrification of heat demand and district heating concepts.
    • Regional gas grids become increasingly important to serve peak heat demand (centralized CHP’s), to accommodate green gas concepts and to provide system flexibility.
    • Gas transmission infrastructure particularly plays an important role for energy containment, i.e. providing longer term flexibility and storage (months/seasons/years).
  2. Already today the Netherlands is connected to 2700 km industrial utility networks (oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen). These networks are expected to acquire a more explicit role on the energy domain.
  3. Allowing fuel switch concepts (e.g. electrolysis versus steam reforming for hydrogen production) to enhance energy system flexibility.
  4. It is also observed that cooling networks emerge (common source for electric heat pumps, utility building cooling with river water/aquifer).
  5. Other examples are collective low-temperature grids for individual electric heat pumps in dwellings where the low temperature heat can also be used for cooling purposes during summer time.
  6. However, the potential of these cooling concepts is considered low.
    • On the one hand we do not see viable reasons for developing public cooling grids based on compression cooling.
    • Public cooling grids would only make sense if ‘free waste cooling’ is available locally. This limits the potential for utilizing flexibility, also storage of cold is rather voluminous due to the low delta in temperatures.
    • Therefor its applicability strongly depends on the local situation.
    • Electrification of heat demand is prominent in all scenarios, advocating enhanced implementation of electric boilers & electric heat pumps.
    • Industrial electric heating infrastructures (high temperature) and domestic district heating infrastructures (low temperature) become increasingly important.

Ontwikkelde producten/diensten

Overview of shortlisted high potential, hybrid energy infrastructure concepts

  1. Power-to-heat
    1. Electric heat pump in heating network
    2. Electric industrial boiler
  2. Gas concepts and hybrids
    • Flexible CHP (or upgrading existing CHP units to enhance their flexibility)
    • Hybrid district heating
  3. Storage in heating infrastructures
    • Hot water network storage facility
    • Medium temperature (450 °C) storage
  4. Power-to-gas
    • Power-to-hydrogen for industrial application or grid injection
    • Power-to-methane for regional application and injection


Participating research partners: DNV GL en CE Delft BV



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