(S)INTEGRATING the Future
Energiewende: Germany’s energy system is changing fast, technology is developing at rapid speed and the knock-on effects for many industries are vast. But so are the opportunities.
It is difficult to keep up with the pace of change in Germany’s energy system. The Energiewende (Energy Transition) has become far more than just switching off a few coal-burning or nuclear power stations and leaving renewables in their place. The transition has affected transport, construction, big data and finance among many other sectors, all either being disrupted or needing to design completely new business models to keep up with the advancing technology. Entire value chains have sprung up, while the relentless change and innovation required to achieve the policy’s ambitious targets (see below) is keeping the industry’s value chain alert and looking for improved efficiency, affordability and output. The result is a huge number of new companies and research projects taking different pathways but heading in the same direction, pushing the boundaries of environmentally friendly energy production and usage further.
As renewables in Germany already account for about 30 percent of annual electricity production, the real challenge has moved from generation to integration of renewable power, for instance, matching supply and demand intelligently when the share of renewables is very high. How to solve this problem will be shown on a large scale with the SINTEG (Smart Energy Showcases - Digital Agenda for the Energy Transition) project starting this year. It is the latest development and pilot Energiewende program announced by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). EUR 230 million of public funding has been provided, and with a potential EUR 360 million from private investment, an overall fund of EUR 600 million is anticipated.
In five large model regions, that have been preselected, SINTEG will develop and demonstrate exemplary solutions for a flexible, responsive, and secure energy system with high proportions of intermittent power generated from wind and solar energy. The programs focus broadly on smart grids, which should help to ensure stability and improve the interplay of power generation, consumption, and storage as well as balancing the energy dynamics between city and surrounding countryside. Using modern information and communications technologies and new market mechanisms to set the right incentives, the five SINTEG projects address key challenges of the energy transition. They also show what a renewable energy system could look like all over Germany: a future where the heat, power, and transportation sectors are smartly linked and even urbanized regions can decarbonize. Industry, utilities, and public bodies have set up consortia to implement innovative solutions as well as welcome further partners that fit the concept.
“All five projects are great opportunities for testing, for creating micro versions of the Energiewende and allowing us to see the future of the integration of renewables into the grid on a massive scale,” said Thomas Grigoleit, Director of Energy, Environment and Raw Materials at Germany Trade & Invest. “The Paris Agreement was a huge step for renewable energy globally, meaning the Energiewende has a big role to play now. Projects like SINTEG definitely create a learning centre for the industry.”
TARGETS BY 2050
Greenhouse gas emissions -80% (relative to 1990 levels)
Primary energy consumption -50% (relative to 2008 levels)
Gross electricity consumption -25% (relative to 2008 levels)
Share of gross electricity consumption from renewable energies 80%
Share of gross final energy consumption from renewable energies 60%
Almost climate-neutral building stock by 2050
Final energy productivity improvement 2.1% p.a.
Final transport energy consumption -40% (relative to 2005 levels)
SO LET’S HAVE A CLOSER LOOK AT THE FIVE PROJECTS:
Designetz: Baukasten Energiewende: From Single Solutions to the Efficient System of the Future
Location: Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland
Companies already involved: 35
Designetz demonstrates optimized use of flexibility within the market: a grid and energy system across three states, developing solutions such as the use of energy readily available from sun and wind sources to provide a supply of power to load centers. A hierarchical system is used in which flexibility requests are moved from superior network levels to lower level ones. 140,000 monitoring systems will analyze the data in those lower levels and send prognoses for the network conditions and possible flexibility up the hierarchy.
enera: The Next Big Step in the Energy Transition
Companies already involved: 30
This venture aims to create answers and solutions for the change from a centralized to a decentralized system. It addresses three subjects: grid, market and data. By upgrading producers, consumers and storage systems, and improving the condition of the grid with new resources, the energy system becomes more flexible. Through decentralized installations it should become easier to stabilize the grid locally, thereby improving the reliability of the future power supply. Regional systemic services would become tradeable on the energy markets and the trade in the markets would expand to include regional information.
C/Sells: Large--scale Showcase in Solar Axis southern Germany
Location: Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hessen
Companies already involved: 64
C/Sells aims to demonstrate the integration of an energy system consisting of regional cells interacting with each other. The cells are of wildly-differing sizes, ranging from individual properties to entire distribution zones. Each cell attempts to balance its energy supply and demand locally, subsequently redistributing excess energy through autonomous trading with other cells that need it. The projects span 1,200 MW of electric power, 1 million users, 15,000 decentralized solar installations, 200 electric vehicles, 1,000 controllable electric heating installations and 60 other controllable installations.
NEW 4.0: North Germany Energy Transition
Location: Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg
Companies already involved: 43
Hamburg, a city state, has a huge energy demand while its northern neighbor is a large wind-energy producer. This project aims to optimize the balances between production and consumption in both states, using more developed market mechanisms and improved technology. Within a double-strategy framework, the plan is to reduce curtailment of wind energy production through improved export of wind energy on one side, and innovative flexibility concepts that improve local consumption on the other. This improved flexibility is to be achieved by regulating consumption through load management, storage systems and sector coupling.
WindNODE: The Shop Window for Intelligent Energy from North-Eastern Germany
Location: Brandenburg, Berlin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia
Companies already involved: 43
Bringing together all five former Eastern German states and the capital city Berlin, this project spans the zone covered by 50Hertz (with exception of Hamburg). It aims to digitally network the grid in order to use renewable capacity, power grids and energy consumers with optimal efficiency. Concrete targets include the development of new products and services which expand the abilities of the quantity-based energy sales systems, along with the creation and protection of consumer protection and data security standards.