“Everything will be networked in the grid of the future. For example, even a battery storage system in a family home in Swabia will know whether there is a storm raging in the North Sea. SmartPool allows us to achieve a healthy balance between power generation, consumption and the grid in an intelligent manner. ”
Martin Kramer is our expert for virtual power plants
innogy develops smart power grids not only to ensure energy security but also to lay the foundation for better climate protection.
The share of the world’s energy that comes from renewable energy sources is rapidly growing. This has the potential to revolutionise the German power grid. innogy already relies on feed-ins from over 300,000 power plants that use renewable energy sources for its distribution grid in Germany. This decentralised mode of power generation poses a challenge for the grid, since the wind doesn’t always blow when power is needed, for example. This is why it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage the balance between power generation and consumption.
Distribution grids need to undergo changes in order to keep up with the energy transition. We have been working to ensure that the grid is ready to meet the new challenges ever since the energy transition started its course. The majority of renewable energy is generated in rural areas by a large margin. This is because there is significantly more room in rural areas than in cities for renewable power plants. Around 80 per cent of the green electricity in Germany is produced in rural regions. This is why energy storage and consumption management – that is, the process of aligning consumption to the available power supply – will become increasingly important.
The smart grid forms the basis for meeting these new requirements. It makes it possible to connect and manage all the components we need for the challenges of the future. The smart grid makes the large amount of energy produced on sunny or windy days available for direct consumption or transfers it to storage systems for later use. It connects new devices that consume power – such as electric cars – to the system and uses them as potential energy storage systems. The smart grid also reacts to changes in a flexible manner.
This is because it knows what requirements it needs to meet at all times. Sensors at crucial junctions and interfaces are constantly calculating how much the power in-feed can be increased or decreased at individual places. The grid can interact with modern communication equipment and automatic control stations to adapt to the current requirements at all times. This flexibility also helps detect or prevent errors.
We at innogy aim to make the grid capable of performing all of these roles in parallel. Our grid will not only be prepared to meet the challenges of the future; it will also enable the development of future technologies.
DESIGNETZ. How will the future energy system have to be designed to be able to integrate distributed, renewable generation into the supply system? The DESIGNETZ project aims to answer this question. The aim of the research consortium, led by innogy, is to develop and extensively test sample solutions that enable a more reliable, profitable and environmentally friendly energy supply. These solutions should integrate a large share of intermittent energy sources, such as wind and solar power. The DESIGNETZ project is being carried out in North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy recognises the importance of the project and has provided tens of millions in funding for it.
DESIGNETZ can be experienced on an “Energy Route” that is currently being developed: Approx. 30 individual DESIGNETZ projects will be presented at “stops” on the route. The first stop has already been inaugurated at our Power-to-Gas plant in Ibbenbüren. It gives the most important facts on DESIGNETZ and Power-to-Gas. Another stop has been set up at our Grid4EU-project in Reken. Others will follow. A matching app provides visitors with an interactive and three dimensional experience. It is available for iOS and Android devices. For more information on the app visit the website.
SmartPool. A particularly intelligent way to simplify grid control in a situation with many different producers was tested in our SmartPool development project and already introduced into the market. The concept is based on the virtual power plant in which a number of distributed generating units are pooled in order to market their power output. But the energy management system SmartPool can offer even more: It can make the virtual power plant available to other users, now also including grid operators. SmartPool does not only control distributed generation from wind farms or private solar PV systems, but is also able to incorporate charging stations and battery storage solutions. This makes it an essential platform for the energy transition, i.e. the link between the market and the grid.
Data Driven Maintenance. Is a medium-voltage cable about to fail? What about the lifetime of a transformer? And how can you optimise fault monitoring on high and medium-voltage cables? Such questions are easier to answer if you are able to collect relevant data and to connect them via “smart” algorithms so that they can be analysed. At innogy Grid & Infrastructure we have developed new methods for this purpose in our project named “Data Driven Maintenance”. In this project, we examined five specific use cases related to technical aspects of the electricity grid with the aim of cutting operating and investment costs.
In the past, we already used various methods to assess maintenance conditions. However, the new approach includes additional data, such as weather and environmental data, but also historical data (e.g. the amount and kind of stress the equipment has been exposed to in the past few years of operation). By connecting and analysing all data available we are able to assess plants and equipment more reliably and predict fault behaviour more precisely. As a result, it is possible to cut costs for technicians and prolong the expected lifetime of the assets. For instance, we have developed an algorithm which uses the data available from all Westnetz transformers (110 kV) to determine the lifetime of each and every transformer in order to be able to assess its individual use.
Project manager Michael Laskowski is delighted: “The results achieved in the nine-month project are excellent, which is why we have decided to expand our activities in this area and are currently setting up a “Data Analytics Lab” to examine additional applications.”