The 22 buildings in the Hohlen ‘energy neighborhood’ will share solar power via a neighborhood power grid. (Image: IDG Grüter AG)
February 6, 2019 - Following the introduction of new laws regarding PV self-consumption at the start of 2018in Switzerland, intended to make the use of solar power in apartment buildings and land plotseasier, the municipality of Huttwil in the canton of Bern is planning to build a neighborhood power grid complete with 22 buildings. The Plus Energie building project consists of twelve single-family homes, three two-family homes and four apartment buildings. There are three more houses with senior residences. According to the blue prints, residents will generate more power than they need thanks to solar installations on every roof and a 580 meter solar balcony railing. Through networking, the whole neighborhood can use self-generated electricity for living and working, and also for operating heat pumps. An expandable 112 kWh battery storage system balances the additional supply and demand and increases the self-consumption of solar power.
An intelligent energy management system developed by the start-up firm Smart Energy Link controls the PV installations, storage system, heat pumps and charging stations. The system optimizes self-consumption of solar power and offsets it depending on weather conditions and electricity generation. The neighborhood’s building contractor, architectural general contracting company IGD Grüter, is registered as the solar installations’ owner and is responsible for electricity supply, measurement and billing for the whole neighborhood.