3.3 million research subsidy for a city-wide, future-proof electricity system

How can we reduce local congestion problems on the electricity grid and offer the national energy markets more flexibility? With the energy transition, our electricity system is facing unique challenges. From 1 April 2021, partners in Utrecht, Arnhem and Delft will be working in a collaborative project, called ROBUST on a flexible and future-proof electricity system for entire city regions. Bidirectional charging of electric cars is an important pillar in this respect. ROBUST was rated the best of twenty project proposals for the MOOI scheme of Top Sector Energie and will receive a subsidy of 3.3 million euros.

From congestion to flexibility

The Netherlands is working on the transition to a sustainable energy supply. The strong growth of decentralized sustainable electricity generation, the phasing out of natural gas and electric transport pose challenges for the current electricity system. There is local overload on the grid and national supply and demand must be coordinated. ROBUST is investigating the optimal relationship between grid reinforcement and the use of flexibility, with the aim of reducing congestion problems and providing flexibility to national energy markets.

Region-wide flexible electricity system

ROBUST is the first research in the world into large-scale use of bidirectional (vehicle-to-grid) passenger cars in combination with batteries, smart charging buses and other assets. The aim is to realize a flexible electricity system at the level of city regions. The bidirectional electric cars are charged with locally generated renewable energy and can supply the energy back to the grid when needed. Smart software ensures coordination between the consumption and generation of electricity. Cars thus form a temporary storage of sustainable energy, like a battery on wheels. The ROBUST consortium is developing a region-wide flexibility system that provides cities with more and more sustainable energy and electric transport. The pioneering urban regions of Utrecht and Arnhem participate with a number of neighborhoods as research locations.

Exploiting potential

ROBUST is developing an integral energy system based on flexible energy sources (flex sources) such as bi-directional charging cars. The project partners are examining, among other things, the optimal relationship between grid reinforcement on the one hand and the use of flex sources on the other. They also investigate how the right energy market design, effective financial incentives and other factors can positively influence flex sources and associated players.

“We keep cost for the necessary energy transition under control with smart software, which ensures that the consumption of electricity is geared towards the generation of it in real time. For example, electric cars can be used as temporary storage and discharged to absorb peaks in the demand for electricity, without having to invest in an expensive battery. We are proud to participate in this development through ROBUST. ”
Wim Boonen, Enervalis


ROBUST stands for research into the robust electricity system of the future. It is a collaboration of grid operator Stedin, Smart Solar Charging BV / We Drive Solar BV, Enervalis, Edmij, ElaadNL, Delft University of Technology, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, the Municipality of Utrecht and the Municipality of Arnhem, led by Utrecht University and the Utrecht Sustainability Institute. This consortium will work closely with end users, stakeholders and experts from other projects within the Mission-Driven Research Development and Innovation (MOOI) subsidy scheme. The project is financially supported by Top Sector Energie of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate through the MOOI ‘Built Environment’ scheme.

“The energy transition is making the energy system increasingly complex. Decentralized generation and electrification are increasing rapidly. ROBUST is investigating to what extent flexibility can be used in the future as an alternative to large-scale grid investments. In this way, we will continue to bring safe, reliable and affordable energy to our customers in the future. ”,
Henk Fidder, network operator Stedin

“Bidirectional charging of electric cars offers enormous opportunities to accelerate the integration and upscaling of renewable energy.”,
Robin Berg, We Drive Solar

“The bi-directional ecosystem that Utrecht is developing is of great importance for achieving our climate goals.”,
Joop Oude Lohuis, Municipality of Utrecht

“ROBUST will provide us with insight into how cities can contribute to the stability of the electricity supply. We are very much looking forward to this project that we will be coordinating with the Utrecht Sustainability Institute. ”,
Prof. Wilfried van Sark, Utrecht University

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