Article within the current edition of the KIT magazine lookKIT on information at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Edition 4/2016. The text was written in English, an excerpt is available in German at the end of the text.
The problem is complex: Instead of using a single power plant to supply a whole region with power, a variety of interacting energy carriers would accomplish this task in the future, all while ensuring reliability and security. For this gigantic transformation to be achieved and the envisaged energy turnaround to come true, a network of interconnected units in the city and its surroundings must be developed. Work will focus on two central questions: What will existing transmission and distribution grids look like after the transformation of the energy system and how will they contribute to reaching this goal? How can supply security and stability be ensured?
A major contribution to solving this problem is to be made by the Kopernikus project ENSURE (German acronym of New Power Grid Structures for the Energy Turnaround), the consortium of which is led by KIT. The federal government’s initiative is intended to fund technology-oriented research projects based on a systemic and transdisciplinary approach. At the same time, needs and expectations of the population are to be reflected adequately and both environmental compatibility and economic requirements are to be considered. For this reason, ENSURE will not only focus on identifying a reasonable combination of centralized and decentralized supply units and developing new hybrid systems structures, but also on economic, ecological, and social aspects of energy supply.
“For the German energy system, the energy turn-around is a change of paradigms that is not only associated with challenges, but also with economic opportunities,” Professor Dr.-Ing. Holger Hanselka, President of KIT and coordinator of ENSURE, says. “Our research activities in this area will contribute to the economic success of the energy turn-around and to technology suppliers, infrastructure operators, and electricity consumers being able to profit from it.” Holger Hanselka also is Research Field Coordinator Energy of the Helmholtz Association. “We want to demonstrate how we in Germany can integrate decentralized fluctuating renewable sources of energy, such as the sun and wind, into the grid and, at the same time, ensure environmentally compatible, reliable, and affordable energy supply.”
ENSURE consists of five research clusters: Socio-economic framework conditions, systems structures, systems management, new technologies, and design of a grid demonstrator. The project will cover three phases. After the first phase for studying fundamentals from September 2016 to August 2019 and the following second phase for pilot implementation through 2022, the final and third phase will be dedicated to designing a multi-modal grid demonstrator by 2025. This large-scale demonstrator is to show how a future urban system and its surroundings could be supplied with power. “The place of this demonstrator still remains to be determined,” says Professor Veit Hagenmeyer, Head of the Institute for Applied Computer Science, and KIT ENSURE director together with Professor Joachim Knebel. “It will be in the outskirts of a medium-sized city. There, we will test the interaction of a variety of suppliers and consumers.” Methods to enhance flexibility and efficiency, e.g. by the integration of power, gas, heat, and storage systems or by DC power connections to the medium- or high-voltage level will also be studied.
KIT will participate in all phases: “In the fundamental research phase as well as in the second and third phases covering concrete hardware systems and technologies, we will contribute our competencies e.g. in power electronics, by providing superconducting devices as transformers and cables, by setting up the control station, or by making available our IT know-how.” The EnergyLab 2.0 that is presently being established at KIT is to act as a role model for this large-scale demonstrator. ”The EnergyLab 2.0 represents an ideal platform to test these new technologies and ideas on the pilot scale,” Veit Hagenmeyer adds.
The ENSURE consortium consists of the six core partners represented in the board of directors and another 17 project partners. The core partners are KIT and RWTH Aachen as representatives of research and higher education, the companies E.ON (utility company and distribution grid operator) and TenneT TSO GmbH (transmission grid operator) as well as the corporate groups of Siemens AG (integrated technology company) and ABB (power and automation technology). The other project partners are: The technical universities of Dortmund and Darmstadt, the universities of Cologne, Wuppertal, Hanover, Kiel, and Erlangen-Nuremberg, the non-university research institutions of Forschungs gemeinschaft für Elektrische Anlagen und Stromwirtschaft e. V. (Research Association of Energy Supply Industry and Electrical Industry), Mannheim, Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy Systems Technology, and OFFIS – Institute for Information Technology Oldenburg, as well as the Institute for Applied Ecology, Deutsche Umwelthilfe e. V., German Watch e. V., DVGW e. V., and the companies of Nexans GmbH, Stadtwerke Kiel, and Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen GmbH. Of the planned budget of more than EUR 43 million for the first three years, the federation will finance about EUR 30 million.
Within the framework of the Kopernikus project “System Integration and Networking of Energy Supply (ENavi),” KIT is represented in the proposing board of directors. The project will extend the focus of the “energy turnaround” to cover the transformation process of the whole society, as transformation of the energy system will result in challenges that can only be managed by a holistic approach on the system level. This project is aimed at obtaining a better and in-depth understanding of the complex “system of systems” in the energy sector and associated areas, such as industry and consumption. Another objective is to generate options for effective collective measures.
Under the Kopernikus project “P2X: Investigation, Validation, and Implementation of Power-to-X-Processes,” KIT will coordinate the research cluster focusing on modular and autonomous technologies for the conversion of synthesis gas based on carbon dioxide into hydrocarbons and long-chained alcohols. Research will concentrate on new process technologies for the production of fuels, synthetic natural gas (SNG), and chemicals from alternative energy sources for decentralized use. In addition, KIT participates in the clusters of “Decentralized H2 Logistics: Storage and Distribution via Liquid Hydrogen Carriers” and “Oxomethylene Ether: Fuelsand Plastics Based on Carbon Hydroxide and Hydrogen.”
(in German only)