World’s first integrated study into a city-wide, future-proof and flexible electricity system

How can we reduce local congestion in the electricity grid, while offering national energy markets more flexibility? The energy transition will present our electricity system with some unique challenges in the future. Starting on 1 April 2021, partners in Utrecht, Arnhem and Delft will join together in the ROBUST project to build a robust, flexible and future-proof electricity system for entire urban regions. One important pillar of the project will involve bi-directional charging for electric cars. ROBUST was judged as the best of 20 project proposals for the Top Sector Energy’s MOOI grant and was awarded 3.3 million euros.

From congestion to flexibility

The Netherlands is working on the transition to a sustainable energy supply. But the strong growth in decentralised sustainable electricity generation, areas switching away from natural gas, and electric mobility will present some new challenges for the current electricity system. The grid is expected to become overloaded in places, and supply and demand will have to be coordinated at the national level. The ROBUST project will study the optimal balance between reinforcing the grid and utilising flexibility, with the goal of reducing congestion and offering flexibility to national energy markets.

Flexible regional electricity system

ROBUST is the first project in the world to study the use of bi-directional (vehicle-to-grid) passenger cars combined with batteries, smart-charging buses and other assets. The goal is to realise a flexible electricity system at the level of metropolitan areas. The bi-directional electric cars will be charged with locally generated sustainable energy, and will be able to supply energy back to the grid when it is needed. Smart software will coordinate between the consumption and generation of electricity. In effect, the cars will serve as temporary storage for sustainable energy; ‘batteries on wheels’. The ROBUST consortium is developing a regional flexibility system that will supply cities with an increasing amount of sustainable energy and electric mobility. Neighbourhoods in the pioneering metropolitan areas of Utrecht¹ and Arnhem will participate in the project as research locations.

¹ See also

Een elektrische auto die wordt geladen aan een oplaadpaal

Utilising potential

ROBUST is developing an integrated energy system based on flexible sources of energy, such as bi-directionally charged vehicles. The project partners will research the optimal relationship between reinforcing the grid on one hand, and the use of flexible sources on the other. They will also study how the right design for the energy market, effective financial stimuli, and other factors can positively influence the flexible sources and their players.

The energy transition will make the energy system more complex. Decentralised generation and electrification are increasing dramatically. ROBUST will study the degree to which flexibility can be utilised as a future alternative to large-scale investments in the grid. In the process, that will allow us to deliver safe, reliable and affordable energy to our future customers.

Henk Fidder, Stedin Grid Manager

Bi-directional charging of electric vehicles presents enormous opportunities to accelerate the integration and scale-up of sustainable energy.

Robin Berg, We Drive Solar

The bi-directional ecosystem that Utrecht is developing is vital to achieve our climate goals.

Joop Oude Lohuis, City of Utrecht

ROBUST will provide us with insight into how cities can contribute to the stability of the electricity supply. We look forward to this project, which we will be coordinating in collaboration with the Utrecht Sustainability Institute.


ROBUST stands for research into the robust electricity system of the future. It is a collaborative effort by grid manager Stedin, SMART Solar Charging BV / We Drive Solar BV, Enervalis, Edmij, ElaadNL, Delft University of Technology, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, the cities of Utrecht and Arnhem, under the leadership of Utrecht University and the Utrecht Sustainability Institute. This consortium will work intensively together with end users, stakeholders and experts from other projects funded by the Missiegedreven Onderzoek Ontwikkeling en Innovatie (Mission-Driven Research Development and Innovation, MOOI) grant scheme. The project is funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs Top Sector Energy via the MOOI scheme for the Built Environment.

De logo's van alle samenwerkende organisaties van ROBUST