Intelligent appliances prevent blackouts

To reduce strain on the grid, we must adapt our energy use to the availability of green energy as efficiently as possible. LINEAR, a pilot project with 250 Flemish families, has shown that smart appliances can help energy providers and grid operators better respond to the unpredictable production of renewable energy sources.

The LINEAR project (Local Intelligent Networks and Energy Active Regions) was a large-scale field study among 250 Flemish families conducted over a five-year period. The research partners tested how families can fit smart appliances, linked to the availability of wind or solar energy, into their daily lives.

A first test group started with adapting demand based on variable pricing. They had to adapt their energy consumption to six rate periods per day, with prices being recalculated daily. Too complex, was the conclusion of many users. A second group tested smart (household) devices ─ dishwashers, dryers, washing machines, electric boilers and chargers for electric vehicles ─ that only worked when sufficient (green) energy was available. Here the results were better. The families found that they were able to flexibly configure the appliances, without sacrificing comfort. Thus according to LINEAR, automatic demand control with smart appliances is one of most sustainable alternatives for preventing blackouts.

VITO/EnergyVille's role

The LINEAR project coordination was handled by EnergyVille, to which VITO belongs. EnergyVille processed the data from the field research and converted it into practical recommendations for the Flemish government.

LINEAR in figures
  • Consortium of 20 Flemish knowledge and research institutions, grid operators, energy providers and companies
  • Duration: January 2011 – November 2014
  • Budget: € 40,000,000 (€ 9,500,000 for the research partners)
     
According to LINEAR, automatic demand control with smart appliances is one of most sustainable alternatives for preventing blackouts.