Bild: Fraunhofer IEE

Dig­i­ti­za­tion is a cen­tral key to imple­ment­ing the ener­gy transition

With the study “Dig­i­ti­za­tion of the Ener­gy Sys­tem — 14 The­ses for Suc­cess”, the Fraun­hofer Clus­ter of Excel­lence CINES posi­tions itself on the dig­i­ti­za­tion of the ener­gy sys­tem. CINES is an asso­ci­a­tion of Fraun­hofer insti­tutes and address­es the cen­tral tech­no­log­i­cal and eco­nom­ic chal­lenges of the ener­gy tran­si­tion, thus bundling the com­pe­ten­cies for applied ener­gy research in the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

Based on the cur­rent state of dig­i­ti­za­tion of the ener­gy sys­tem, Fraun­hofer experts from the Fraun­hofer Clus­ter of Excel­lence “Inte­grat­ed Ener­gy Sys­tems” have devel­oped 14 the­ses in a study that high­light the poten­tials of a more far-reach­ing dig­i­ti­za­tion of the var­i­ous sec­tors and, at the same time, cur­rent obsta­cles. The objec­tive of the study pub­lished in Sep­tem­ber 2022, in which experts from the Fraun­hofer Insti­tutes IEE, ISE, SIT, ISI, and IOSB-AST par­tic­i­pat­ed, was first to ana­lyze cur­rent trends in the fields of ener­gy and dig­i­ti­za­tion and to deter­mine the cur­rent state of dig­i­ti­za­tion in the ener­gy sys­tem. Based on this, 14 the­ses were drawn up in col­lab­o­ra­tion with inter­nal and exter­nal experts, which also con­tain con­crete rec­om­men­da­tions for action for play­ers in the ener­gy sys­tem and for policymakers.

In a sym­po­sium on the dig­i­ti­za­tion of the ener­gy tran­si­tion, the the­ses were pre­sent­ed and dis­cussed at Fraun­hofer ENIQ in Berlin on Sep­tem­ber 27 and 28, 2022. “It became clear that the time­ly and eco­nom­i­cal imple­men­ta­tion of the ener­gy tran­si­tion requires a far-reach­ing dig­i­ti­za­tion of the Ger­man ener­gy sys­tem, from plant con­trol to the upper grid lev­els,” said dig­i­ti­za­tion expert and head of Fraun­hofer IEE, Dr. Rein­hard Mack­ensen, sum­ma­riz­ing the discussions.

The the­ses of the study are divid­ed into five main areas, which result from an analy­sis of the most rel­e­vant trends in ener­gy sys­tem trans­for­ma­tion and dig­i­tal­iza­tion: Data eco­nom­ics, sec­tor cou­pling, plant com­mu­ni­ca­tion, grid plan­ning and oper­a­tion, cyber secu­ri­ty. This study thus aims to con­tribute to the fur­ther devel­op­ment of dig­i­ti­za­tion in the ener­gy sys­tem in order to estab­lish the cli­mate-neu­tral ener­gy indus­try with dig­i­tal tools in the best pos­si­ble way.

“The authors of the study have for­mu­lat­ed the­ses for all key top­ics that do not have a pure­ly nation­al per­spec­tive, but are also intend­ed to pro­vide an impe­tus for a Euro­pean strat­e­gy for the dig­i­ti­za­tion of ener­gy sup­ply,” explains Dr. Mar­ijke Welisch, Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of Fraun­hofer CINES. How­ev­er, the focus of the analy­sis and the con­crete rec­om­men­da­tions for action was the Ger­man reg­u­la­to­ry and legal situation.

“In sum­ma­ry, the authors believe that dig­i­ti­za­tion is a key fac­tor in the imple­men­ta­tion of the ener­gy tran­si­tion. With­out far-reach­ing and con­sis­tent dig­i­ti­za­tion, from plant con­trol, through the entire grid cas­cade, to the indi­vid­ual sec­tors, an eco­nom­ic and time­ly ener­gy tran­si­tion is not fea­si­ble,” con­cludes Manuel Wick­ert of Fraun­hofer IEE, who heads the dig­i­ti­za­tion dimen­sion in the CINES cluster.

“In this con­text, a data econ­o­my can be the enabler to make the nec­es­sary cross-actor process automa­tion pos­si­ble. In order to fur­ther increase the secu­ri­ty of ener­gy sup­ply, cyber resilience must also play a rel­e­vant role in a Euro­pean dig­i­tal­iza­tion strat­e­gy for ener­gy sup­ply,” Wick­ert and his col­leagues are convinced.

Anto­nia Heine­mann from Umlaut Ener­gy in her keynote stressed that Ger­many’s expan­sion tar­gets for renew­able ener­gy and e‑mobility for 2030 can only be achieved by using effi­cient dig­i­tal tools and processes.

There were excit­ing pre­sen­ta­tions and live­ly dis­cus­sions on the role of dig­i­ti­za­tion in the ener­gy sys­tem of the future on both days. Par­tic­i­pants and experts from research, busi­ness and pol­i­tics dis­cussed trends, chal­lenges and pos­si­ble solu­tions on the top­ics of sen­sors and IoT in the ener­gy indus­try, dig­i­tal ener­gy sup­ply com­pa­nies, data rooms, cyber secu­ri­ty and dig­i­tal­ized sec­tor coupling.

The 14 the­ses on the dig­i­ti­za­tion of the ener­gy sys­tem are:

The­sis 1: In the future, the val­ue of ener­gy will depend on the linked data

The­sis 2: Dig­i­tal­ly dri­ven val­ue net­works are the future of ener­gy supply

The­sis 3: A Sov­er­eign and Resilient Euro­pean Ener­gy Sys­tem Requires EU-Based ICT

The­sis 4: With­out dig­i­tized sec­tor cou­pling, the costs of trans­form­ing the ener­gy sys­tem will rise significantly

The­sis 5: Viable ener­gy indus­try busi­ness mod­els for dig­i­tized sec­tor cou­pling at the neigh­bor­hood lev­el cur­rent­ly fail due to reg­u­la­to­ry hurdles

The­sis 6: Effi­cient decar­boniza­tion of the heat­ing sec­tor can only be achieved with digitization

The­sis 7: The smart meter­ing sys­tem will be over­tak­en by oth­er solu­tions in plant communication

The­sis 8: The ener­gy tran­si­tion needs plant com­mu­ni­ca­tion based on cur­rent IT tech­nolo­gies and open documentation

The­sis 9: Mod­ern plant com­mu­ni­ca­tion is plug&play capa­ble and enables cross-actor process automation

The­sis 10: Dig­i­ti­za­tion is a nec­es­sary core com­pe­tence in future pow­er grid operations

The­sis 11: A decen­tral­ized ener­gy tran­si­tion means com­plete dig­i­ti­za­tion down to the low­er grid levels

The­sis 12: Time­ly imple­men­ta­tion of the ener­gy tran­si­tion can only suc­ceed through com­plete dig­i­ti­za­tion of plan­ning and approval processes

The­sis 13: Cyber resilience will replace cybersecurity

The­sis 14: Reli­able EV net­works require reli­able com­mu­ni­ca­tion networks

Fraun­hofer Clus­ter CINES

The Clus­ter of Excel­lence Inte­grat­ed Ener­gy Sys­tems CINES address­es the cen­tral tech­no­log­i­cal and eco­nom­ic chal­lenges of the ener­gy tran­si­tion. The goal is the sys­tem and mar­ket inte­gra­tion of high shares of vari­able renew­able ener­gies into the ener­gy sys­tem. For this pur­pose, CINES bun­dles the com­pe­ten­cies of the insti­tutes for applied ener­gy research of the Fraun­hofer Gesellschaft.

CINES devel­ops solu­tions for ener­gy sys­tem trans­for­ma­tion — com­pre­hen­sive, cross-sec­tor ener­gy sys­tem analy­ses, dig­i­tal solu­tion mod­els for the dig­i­tal­iza­tion of new tech­nolo­gies, deci­sive advances in elec­trol­y­sis, pow­er elec­tron­ics and heat, and the suc­cess­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tion of the ener­gy transition.

CINES is com­posed of Fraun­hofer ISE, IEE, ISI, IEG and IWES as well as the part­ner insti­tutes UMSICHT, IOSB-AST, ICT, SIT and IBP.