Smart energy, made in Germany
E-Energy pilot projects a research priority
Published In: Intelligent Utility Magazine May / June 2012
IN THE COURSE OF BASIC ENERGY REFORM, GERMANY IS vastly changing the structure of its supply system in the coming decades. "Affordable and reliable energy supply is essential for our industrial growth. Climate change, growing energy demand and depleting raw materials pose great challenges for Germany, as also reflected in the energy and climate policy decisions of the last two years: First, greenhouse gas emissions will be substantially curtailed by 2050. Second, renewable energies will provide the bulk of our power supply in future, and third, we are looking to to curb energy demand by a large margin while raising energy efficiency," wrote Dr. Philipp Rosler, Germany's federal minister of economics and technology in the foreword of a new report, Smart Energy Made in Germany.
The bulk of the 44-page report details the interim results of Germany's E-Energy pilot projects, moving toward what it is referring to as the Internet of Energy. Six regional pilot projects covering the gamut of technologies, ideas and research are a inter-ministerial partnership between the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) and the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Reactor Safety (BMU).
Systematically maximizing power supply efficiency
"Whether we call it smart, active or intelligent grid, we are talking about systematically maximizing the efficiency of electric power supply. This ranges from power generation to storage, transport, distribution up to efficient use," Rosler wrote. "E-Energy means Smart Energy made in Germany," he added. "We have some enterprising partners on board. Together, we want to find out what is technically feasible and what makes economic sense. With different scenarios in six model regions, industrial and scientific syndicates are investigating and testing the essential elements of intelligent energy supply."
Germany's energy policy is pursuing three major goals-economic efficiency, supply security and compliance with environmental standards-energy goals many of today's developed and developing countries share. But Germany has taken its renewables targets to an extreme: "The share of renewable power generation in gross energy demand will be raised from 17 percent today to 35 percent by 2020 ... The target for 2050 is a ration of 80 percent of power demand," says the report.
The six pilot projects' research efforts cover energy efficiency, integration of renewable energies, decentralized energy generation, supply security/grid bottlenecks/grid expansion, market deregulation, storage devices, load flexibilization, IT security and data protection, information and communication technologies (ICT) architecture, smart metrology and e-mobility.
A regional electricity marketplace is key
Regional and local energy marketplaces play a large role in the country's changing supply system revamp. In the Cuxhaven region, for example, the eTelligence project is testing a complex control system designed to balance out fluctuating wind power by intelligently integrating electricity into the red, and a regional market. According to the report, "The core component of eTelligence is a regional electricity marketplace that brings together producers, consumers with shiftable loads, energy service providers and grid operators. As well as improving supply security from renewable energies, this also enhances economic efficiency."
The pilot project in the Harz region is focusing on "the joint marketing of regionally available renewable producers and flexibilities grouped into a virtual power station on different markets." The IEC-61850 standard is enabling simple and secure connection of systems to a joint control station, and a "regional renewable energy rate" is being offered to consumers in the pilot. According to the report, "The rate is geared to minimizing the residual load within the region so that the customers can make an active contribution to balancing out production and consumption."
Another interesting aspect of the Harz region project is that it is demonstrating that the storage requirements for energy can be reduced through short-term wind forecasts. And load shifts on the consumer side, the report notes, help to improve voltage regulation in the distribution grid and compensate for forecast errors.
Intelligent consumption management tested
Other pilot projects include the E-DeMa project, which is investigating intelligent consumption management and the near-time capture and provision of consumption data. It, too, has a regional energy marketplace that functions as a central data hub, both for consumption and contract data. In the MeRegio project, 1,000 electricity customers from Freiamt and Goppingen are testing the smart home. In the moma project, new "energy butlers," or control devices, have been installed in 200 homes. Through energy management, customers are learning to bring their consumption into line with the variable prices on the energy market.
Finally, the Smart Watts system hopes to provide an information and control model for the energy system, one that will provide market players with neartime, actual production and consumption data, and end-to-end optimization of the energy supply.
In summary, the goal is that the Internet of Energy, will "network the many actors of the energy system," according to the report. "Every unit connected to the power grid is integrated into the control system through plug and play. They are connected to the overall system through equipment called energy managers, communication managers, control boxes or ICT gateways.
"They are provided with the necessary information and help to match up production, grid load and consumption largely automatically. This will give rise to an integrated data and energy network with completely new structures and functionalities."