Faster energy transition by linking AI to regulation

Faster energy transition by linking AI to regulation

12 Mar 2021

On the TU/e website we read that NWO is going to support innovative research into energy transition with a multi-million subsidy from the Perspectief program: the MegaMind Program. Read on for the article.

The energy transition in the Netherlands threatens to stagnate: while the demand for electricity continues to increase, the supply from sustainable sources is becoming increasingly erratic. Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) will therefore work with three other universities, TNO and nine industrial partners to investigate how to overcome this impasse. The researchers are not only looking for the solution in technology (such as artificial intelligence), but also look at laws and regulations. The program, which is subsidized by an NWO Perspective grant, should lead to new ways in which local energy systems can manage themselves.

“In the energy transition, it is important to combine innovations in technology with innovation in legislation and regulations,” says Professor Koen Kok of the Electrical Engineering faculty at TU / e and leader of the new research program. “If legislation and regulations lag behind technological developments, this will slow down the innovation that is necessary for sustainability, and vice versa. With the MegaMind Program we want to lift that mutual stranglehold. ”


The research focuses on the so-called edges of the energy system: the distribution networks and the energy-producing and consuming devices that are connected to them. Electricity as an energy carrier plays an important role in this. The demand for electricity is constantly increasing, partly due to the growth in heat pumps and in electric cars and buses. At the same time, the supply is becoming more erratic due to a growing supply of sustainable electricity from wind and sun.

Network operators and market parties are looking for ways to prevent network overload and to link supply and demand in a smart way. "Artificial intelligence can play an important role in this, as long as the mechanisms for exchanging data and energy are transparent and fair for all involved," says Kok.

"The success of the energy transition stands or falls with two things: the way in which the chain partners in the local electricity systems jointly adopt new digital technologies, and the way in which the legislator allows them to do so."

Professor Koen Kok

Professor Koen Kok


In the program, the researchers are collaborating with the four major electricity grid operators in the Netherlands: Stedin, Liander, Enexis and TenneT. Kok: “The regional network operators use their networks to connect the local energy systems with each other and with TenneT's transmission network. It is an extremely complex system, both in terms of structure and in terms of the amount of data that it handles. We therefore see a great need among grid operators for new technology and regulatory solutions. ”

PwC, which acts as coordinator within the consortium on behalf of the industrial partners, also emphasizes the importance of good regulation in line with technological innovations. "The energy transition requires collaboration between parties from the public and private sector, start-ups, scale-ups and established names," says Jan-Willem Sanders, Partner and Consulting lead Energy, Utilities & Resources at PwC.

"The progressive thing about this program is that, in addition to using data and artificial intelligence to get a grip on complex systems, we also pay a lot of attention to the legal and ethical framework within which data is shared and fair market mechanisms are safeguarded."


The program has three main themes. In the first theme, the researchers examine how locally available data can be exchanged and used for monitoring the electricity network. To this end, they are developing new distributed AI techniques that locally map and predict the state of the network (currents, voltages).

In the second theme, they investigate how the local supply and demand of electricity can be attuned to the available network capacity and the availability of (green) electricity from higher parts of the network through automated decision-making and self-management.

The third theme focuses on the technical and legal aspects of data sharing. On the one hand, this concerns regulations and agreements between parties on matters such as data ownership, data privacy and protection of trade secrets. On the other hand, this revolves around technical solutions to automatically share data.


In addition to TU/e and TNO, three universities and nine industrial partners are involved in the program led by the TU/e. These are Enexis Netbeheer, ENGIE Services Netherlands, IBM GBS, Liander, PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory, Smart State Technology, Stedin Netbeheer, Delft University of Technology, TenneT, Tilburg University, Transdev Netherlands (Connexxion Netherlands), and University of Twente.

With the investments from the sector and the amount allocated by NWO from the Perspectief program, a budget of 3.7 million euros has been created. Ten of these researchers, PhD students and postdocs, can work at the five knowledge institutes in the consortium.

Written by
Saskia van de Schoot

directeur new business

Saskia van de Schoot
Related news
Want to stay up to date with the latest news and events at HTCE and TU/e Campus? Sign up for the newsletter.
Wil jij ook een maand gebruik maken van onze nieuwe showkantoor? Klik dan hier!