Switch Energy: “We realized a hub where energy and mobility come together”

Switch Energy develops, finances and realizes PV installations, mainly for commercial real estate. By integrating data, technology and infrastructure, it creates local smart grids for the efficient use of sustainable energy.

For a project which was initiated by the municipality of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Switch Energy developed the first sustainable, energy-positive mobility hub in the Netherlands at the so-called “Transferium Deutersestraat”. An intelligent combination of various generation, storage and charging systems makes this hub more than energy neutral; the surplus of generated energy is stored locally and used to charge e-bikes, cars and buses.

Used products from Energico

Situation: what was the reason for the project (and for involving Energico as a partner)?

“When this project started, in 2016, smart energy management and smart charging were still relatively new”, says Business Designer Steven Twigge of Switch Energy, who was responsible for system integration. “So we decided to look at it without a preconceived plan and also to use the project to experiment, for example with different types of batteries.”  

“It was not just a matter of generating energy with solar panels. We also had to deal with powering the car charging stations and a 350 kW bus charger, as well as battery storage for peak shaving. That creates quite a puzzle, and a need for interoperability. In the European Interflex project, Energico had already proven that they could realize a similar setup, although on a smaller scale. But they immediately assured us: yes, this is something that we can also do on a larger scale.”

Solution: how did Energico contribute to the project?

“Energico has a proven track record with its EMMA energy resource management system and its extensive experience with asset management. We were able to extend their existing platform and monitoring services with custom built algorithms. In cooperation with our end client, we formulated three different scenarios: Green Fleet, Congestion Management and Energy Neutral Building. These scenarios have been designed to tailor to different usage profiles during the day and under different conditions of energy availability and consumption.”

“EMMA connects and controls all assets on location. It reads and records the data from the solar panels, the bus charger, the grid connection and the EV charging stations. It controls the battery use. And at the same time, it’s a platform with which we can visualize data, generate reports, and play with parameters to further optimize the system based on data and insights.”

“We have now proven that solutions such as these are technically possible.”

- Steven Twigge, Switch Energy

Results: what has the project brought Switch Energy and ‘s-Hertogenbosch?

“The municipality realized a hub where energy and mobility come together, with a building that generates seven times as much energy as it needs. A hub that reduces car traffic to the city center and stimulates electric transport. Mind you that this is not commercial real estate but social real estate. Governments have different investment horizons than commercial organizations. Where companies want to recoup this type of investment within five years, governments easily accept a ten year horizon.”

“Whether it will ultimately be profitable, remains to be seen, but we have now proven that solutions such as these are technically possible. In the morning, when cars come in, the battery helps to provide the required power. As soon as the PV system starts generating energy, the battery switches off. In addition, locally generated energy goes to the market; preferably when people get home and start watching TV. If we can feed back into the grid when the kWh price is higher, we benefit from a double delta: buying cheap energy at night to use it for our morning peak, and feeding back locally generated – and stored – energy in the evening.”

Review: how did Switch Energy experience the collaboration with Energico?

“The collaboration with Tom, the software engineer who wrote the algorithms, went very well”, Steven looks back. “And I think it is also good that we were able to shape it into a project rather than a commissioned job.”

Laughing: “Because we also ran into some things that are typical of partnerships between an SME organization such as ours and a somewhat more corporate organization, that is used to talk about megawatts. In that respect, I think it is positive and promising that Energico operates independently within the larger Croonwolter&dros organization.”

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