The good news is that renewables account for nearly 50 percent of electricity generated in Germany. The bad news is that they lack the flexibility to adapt to the day’s fluctuating electricity demand.
They only furnish electrical energy when the wind blows or the sun shines. In a perfect world, engineers would find a way to store the vast amounts of energy generated by renewables and coordinate power production and storage. And that is exactly what ES-FLEX-INFRA, a joint project led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing SCAI, aims to do.
Funded by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the ES-FLEX-INFRA project’s express objective is to couple energy sectors in a bid to make their infrastructure more flexible. The software developed to this end aims to enable power utilities to analyze and shift loads, and integrate storage facilities into the urban infrastructure. The TH Köln University of Applied Sciences, Werusys GmbH & Co. KG and Rheinische NETZGesellschaft mbH have joined Fraunhofer SCAI in this venture.
“What happens when demand for electricity is high but the sun is not shining? How do we use the surplus energy when the situation is reversed? If the share of renewable energies continues to grow, the individual energy sectors’ conventional efforts to optimize energy usage will no longer be enough. Instead, it will be necessary to link energy sectors such as electrical power, natural gas, district heating and transport,” says Dr. Bernhard Klaassen, who is supporting the project at Fraunhofer SCAI. “For example, it is much more cost-effective and efficient to shift loads to balance out power generation and consumption, use industrial waste heat and store thermal energy than to store energy in the form of electricity.”
Source: “Fraunhofer connects energy production and storage”, Michael Krapp, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft