Flexibility, integration, dissemination
The consortium of 70, which is supported by six federal states, aims to model an “Internet of Energy” in which all system players – power generators, grid operators, ICT specialists, aggregators and prosumers – communicate with each other in almost real-time to efficiently generate, use and store renewable energy.
The key goals are to identify and activate opportunities for flexible demand to allow plants and small producers to swiftly react to fluctuations in generation while developing the business models and control methods to exploit them, to establish intelligent networking on three levels (smart grids, ICT structures, markets/regulations) to allow as many players as possible to constantly exchange information and to encourage the flexible use and storage of energy when it is more plentiful and therefore cheaper using sector-coupling techniques (e.g. power-to-heat, power-to-cold and electromobility).
Various partners are working on different aspects of the project, making the region a “real-world laboratory for intelligent energy,” says Graebig. For example, the retail giants Lidl and Kaufland are testing whether their cooling systems can generate reserves when power is plentiful in pilot stores.
50Hertz, the transmission system operator coordinating the project, and distribution system operators are identifying flexibility options at the local level (e.g. supermarkets, industrial plants) to avoid bottlenecks on certain power lines. Meanwhile, Siemens is shifting production times at its massive operations in Berlin to when solar and wind energy is plentiful. And in early June, the Swedish power giant Vattenfall announced it will invest almost €100m to build Germany’s largest power-to-heat plant in Berlin as part of its efforts to phase out coal there by 2030.
The projects will be organized into nine “demonstrators,” where innovative, tangible solutions at all stages of the interconnected energy system will be presented to interested parties and potential investors and combined to form one joint model. In addition, there will be 20 to 30 locations where experts and the public will be able to view the concrete results. Although these will only become available in late 2017, early cross-sector groups have already borne fruit, claims Graebig, while the technical potential for flexibility in industry has proven “even bigger than we had estimated.”