Energy Transients: A Conversation with Gerben Hoogendorp

Gerben Hoogendorp is a lecturer in the field of electrical power engineering at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. From an early age he has been interested in electrical engineering, experimenting with electronics as a hobby. In 2009 and 2016 respectively, he obtained his MSc and PhD from Delft University of Technology. His interest in teaching came from a short experience in teaching students during his time as a PhD student. Since 2019, Gerben has been a part of the research group ‘Energy in Transition’, where he is involved in projects related to energy transportation in DC grids.

The Energy Transition

“The word ‘sustainability’ has a broad meaning of course, and in general is about striving for something that will last a long time without dependence on fossil sources. The most interesting aspects in sustainability for me are in the area of creating a stable and reliable electrical energy supply in the future, by making use of local energy supplies such as solar power, wind energy, and energy storage possibilities in the power grid.”

“Energy transition is to me first and foremost a social theme; it is a process that takes many years in which large changes in the energy supply and power grid topologies are made. The main focus in my PhD project was on studying transients - caused by switching actions, lightning strikes etcetera - in electrical power grids, especially in high voltage underground AC cables.”

“The energy transition results in more local sustainable energy sources and changes in grid topologies in which a balance between energy supply and demand will be an important aspect. To achieve this, control actions in the grid such as droop control are of major importance. The energy transition will result in more application of DC power, since solar panels generate DC power, and most household consumers are DC equipment. This means that a slight replacement of traditional AC grids by more local DC grids is likely to occur. My main research interest in DC grids is studying its behavior during switching actions or other types of disturbances.”

The New Rail Project

“In the Newrail project, we experiment with installing solar panels on noise walls. This project gives me the opportunity to investigate transient behavior of systems that consist of solar panels, converters and cables. Together with colleagues, I formulate research questions, set up simulation studies to investigate this behavior and involve students to contribute to the study.”

“At the moment, my focus in this project is on researching the effects that are expected to occur during disturbances caused by outside electromagnetic fields. This is for instance the case when trains are passing by or when trains are accelerating again after a standstill close to the solar system. These electromagnetic fields could influence the performance of the electrical circuit in which the solar panels and other equipment are installed. As a result, large voltage peaks can be expected, and this could have consequences for the lifetime of the equipment in the grid.”

“A very important aspect of the project is to get people, mainly the local citizens, involved in the discussions about the installation of local infrastructure that contributes to the energy transition.”

Reflecting and Looking Ahead

“The Newrail project is a pilot project and there are many stakeholders involved with different interests. In my opinion, the most remarkable aspect was a change in the pilot location. The study was being done for the first pilot location and the conclusions that can be drawn depend on local data and circumstances. When changing the location, some project parameters will change, and a new study is needed to investigate the novel situation.”

“As the project is a pilot project, the results and conclusions are valuable for the identification of general aspects, specifically technical problems and consequences when installing solar panels in unusual locations.”

“I think we can expect more projects like this in the future as more wind power and solar panels will be installed. It’s important to always keep in mind that we should take care of social acceptance and involve stakeholders to contribute to the discussion about the best location. In the Netherlands, there is plenty of room on the roofs of office buildings, so I would not be surprised if we start making use of those more than we do today.”

For more information about the Newrail project, have a look at: https://www.thehagueuniversity.com/research/centre-of-expertise/projectdetails/newrail