Accelerating the energy transition at a clean tech campus

April 25, 2024 4 min. read

The Green Box Cleantech Campus is a Dutch hub for cleantech companies providing new solutions for the energy transition. Here is the story of how they are working with Oktogrid to prevent congestion in the transformers and launch a new experiment that involves insulating plants on rooftops of transformer cabinets.

Near Hengelo, in the eastern part of the Netherlands, you will find The Green Box – a hub for cleantech companies working on the energy transition. In this ecosystem, 20 cleantech companies share production facilities, storage, and offices, making it a tangible space for knowledge-sharing, collaboration, and co-creation in the industry and beyond. 

In addition, the team at The Green Box Campus has green ambitions of their own. They have developed a unique energy system with 18.000 solar panels and lots of innovative projects designed to help them realise their ambitions of becoming 100% sustainable by 2026. Oktogrid plays an important role in one of those projects. However, that was not how the collaboration with The Green Box Campus began in the first place. 

Preventing congestions 

Rien Veldsink works as a business developer and energy professional at The Green Box. He is in charge of the electricity network, including twelve heavy transformers, that provides power to all of the companies on the campus. 

Since they host companies producing everything from charging stations to switching cabinets and batteries, companies performing hydrogen electrolysis, and all sorts of energy-heavy tasks, their electricity usage can be quite high during peak loads. As a consequence, Rien Veldsink was looking for a solution that could help him gain a better understanding of the network, especially the transformers. 

“The transformers are dumb assets,” Rien Veldsink says. “We measure a lot. Like kilowatt-hours, voltage, and power output, but we still didn’t know anything about the transformers. Our transformers are the most precious assets in our network, and we want to know what’s happening inside them, how heavy they are loaded, and what their lifespan is.” 

That’s why The Green Box Cleantech Campus got in contact with Oktogrid. They wanted to know the exact status of their transformers in order to monitor them and perform predictive maintenance.

“When I got in contact with Oktogrid, it became clear that they could deliver one of the silver bullets needed to solve the problem of net congestion,” he continues. “Most of the time, our transformers are only 20-40 % loaded, we estimate now. With Oktogrid, we can put more pressure on them without creating uncertainty or risk that they break,” Rien explains. 

Besides the conventional use of Oktogrid, Rien Veldsink and his colleagues have also developed a new innovative way of applying the data solution. 

Insulating rooftop plants 

To compensate for the net loss of green areas that follows with their extensive use of solar panels, they’ve recently launched an experiment of using plants to isolate the roofs of their transformer cabinets. Not only will this help to create cleaner air and reduce the climate footprint of the campus, but Rien also has a theory that it can extend the lifespan of the transformers. Due to lower and more stable temperatures in the cabinet because of the use of insulating plants on the rooftop.

“It would be an extra benefit for the energy transition if we could prove that putting plants on the roof of the transformer cabinet can generate benefits like lower temperatures and a better moisture balance, which affects the lifespan of the transformers,” Rien explains.

With Oktogrid, he gets all the data he needs to verify his experiment. It’s still early days, and he needs more data to prove the effect, but only a few months after the installation, the first indications are highly promising. 

Rien hopes that the experiment succeeds, that the solution will become a model for the industry, and that it can inspire other network operators to implement similar solutions. In the end, that is what The Green Box Campus is all about: working together on innovative cleantech solutions to accelerate the energy transition and deliver a blueprint for the energy system of the future.

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