Ener­gy Sys­tem of the Future: Fed­er­al Research Min­is­ter Launch­es Large-Scale Sim­u­la­tion at KIT

With the goal of cli­mate neu­tral­i­ty in mind, researchers at the Ener­gy Lab 2.0 at the Karl­sruhe Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy (KIT) have built a detailed “dig­i­tal twin” of the Ger­man ener­gy sys­tem. With real inte­gra­tion of future tech­nolo­gies such as solar parks, grid stor­age or pow­er-to‑X plants, they are now using it to vir­tu­al­ly test the ener­gy sys­tem of the future with all its com­po­nents. Fed­er­al Research Min­is­ter Bet­ti­na Stark-Watzinger launched the sim­u­la­tion today (Oct. 28, 2022) dur­ing her on-site visit.

with the goal of cli­mate neu­tral­i­ty in mind, researchers at the Ener­gy Lab 2.0 at the Karl­sruhe Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy (KIT) have built a detailed “dig­i­tal twin” of the Ger­man ener­gy sys­tem. With real inte­gra­tion of future tech­nolo­gies such as solar parks, grid stor­age or pow­er-to‑X plants, they are now using it to vir­tu­al­ly test the ener­gy sys­tem of the future with all its com­po­nents. Fed­er­al Research Min­is­ter Bet­ti­na Stark-Watzinger launched the sim­u­la­tion today (Oct. 28, 2022) dur­ing her on-site visit.

The Min­is­ter was accom­pa­nied on her vis­it by Michael Theur­er, Par­lia­men­tary State Sec­re­tary to the Fed­er­al Min­is­ter for Dig­i­tal Affairs and Transport.

Research at Ener­gy Lab 2.0 will clar­i­fy how a cli­mate-neu­tral and resilient ener­gy sys­tem should be con­struct­ed and how it can be man­aged in a safe and sta­ble man­ner. The sim­u­la­tion is based on renew­able ener­gies as well as a closed car­bon cycle, i.e. on an ener­gy sys­tem as it should be real­i­ty in 2045 accord­ing to the plans of the Ger­man gov­ern­ment. The Ger­man Fed­er­al Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion and Research (BMBF) is large­ly fund­ing the work on Ener­gy Lab 2.0.

“Advanc­ing cli­mate change and the ener­gy cri­sis make it clear that we need more speed in trans­form­ing our ener­gy sup­ply,” said Fed­er­al Research Min­is­ter Bet­ti­na Stark-Watzinger. “To achieve our ambi­tious goals, we depend on inten­sive research. Ener­gy research here at KIT and in the Helmholtz Asso­ci­a­tion is mak­ing an impor­tant con­tri­bu­tion to accel­er­at­ing the trans­for­ma­tion and pur­pose­ful­ly build­ing the ener­gy sup­ply of the future, for exam­ple in the form of green hydrogen.”

“With the Ener­gy Lab 2.0, we can show that a cli­mate-neu­tral ener­gy sys­tem is pos­si­ble in per­spec­tive,” said Pro­fes­sor Thomas Hirth, KIT Vice Pres­i­dent for Trans­fer and Inter­na­tion­al Affairs and rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the KIT Pre­sid­i­um dur­ing the vis­it. “Even though Ger­many will prob­a­bly always remain an ener­gy import­ing coun­try, we can pro­vide the tech­nolo­gies and build up the know-how to make it hap­pen inter­na­tion­al­ly and local­ly. Ener­gy research, as it is con­duct­ed here at Ener­gy Lab 2.0, illus­trates in the best sense how prac­ti­cal­ly ori­ent­ed sci­ence is to the great chal­lenges of our time.”

The Ener­gy Lab 2.0: test­ing ground for sec­tor coupling

The Ener­gy Lab 2.0 is Europe’s largest research infra­struc­ture for renew­able ener­gies and sec­tor cou­pling. Among oth­er things, high-per­for­mance mod­els are cre­at­ed here to real­is­ti­cal­ly sim­u­late a flex­i­ble inter­ac­tion of elec­tri­cal, ther­mal and chem­i­cal ener­gy sources. For exam­ple, the intel­li­gent net­work­ing of future hydro­gen infra­struc­tures or planned wind farms with real pow­er-to‑X plants, ener­gy stor­age sys­tems and oth­er ener­gy sys­tem com­po­nents is already being prac­ticed today. Among oth­er things, solar field and geot­her­mal ener­gy, inno­v­a­tive ener­gy stor­age, pow­er-to‑X plants, res­i­den­tial build­ings, elec­tric cars — and a lot of com­put­ing pow­er — are avail­able on the cam­pus. Over the next few years, a new gen­er­a­tion of pro­fes­sion­als here will learn to dri­ve the net­worked ener­gy sys­tem of the future safe­ly through dark peri­ods and attacks from cyber criminals.

Work­ing togeth­er for more speed in the ener­gy transition

In terms of tech­nol­o­gy devel­op­ment, research at Ener­gy Lab 2.0 spans the spec­trum from basic research to fin­ished pro­to­types. Whether plants for the pro­duc­tion of fuels from renew­able ener­gy and the CO2 of the ambi­ent air, redox flow large-scale stor­age or man­u­fac­tur­ing strate­gies for var­i­ous key com­po­nents — many things can be pur­chased and pro­duced here by com­pa­nies ready for devel­op­ment. Indus­try is also invit­ed to use the sophis­ti­cat­ed sim­u­la­tion tools to test pow­er sys­tem com­po­nents from their own devel­op­ment or col­lab­o­ra­tive projects in a real­is­tic envi­ron­ment. For pol­i­cy­mak­ers, in turn, the Ener­gy Lab 2.0 is avail­able as a real lab­o­ra­to­ry: Here, for exam­ple, it can be quick­ly exam­ined how the loss of gas sup­plies from Rus­sia can be cush­ioned by renew­able ener­gies or sav­ings, or how a ramp-up of the hydro­gen econ­o­my should be tech­ni­cal­ly orga­nized. (mhe)

Detailed cap­tion:
Cap­tion: Start of the sim­u­la­tion at Ener­gy Lab 2.0 (from left to right): Prof. Michael Deck­er, Head of KIT’s Depart­ment of Infor­mat­ics, Eco­nom­ics, and Soci­ety; Bet­ti­na Stark-Watzinger, Fed­er­al Min­is­ter of Edu­ca­tion and Research; Prof. Thomas Hirth, Vice Pres­i­dent for Trans­fer and Inter­na­tion­al Affairs of KIT; Michael Theur­er, Par­lia­men­tary State Sec­re­tary to the Fed­er­al Min­is­ter of Dig­i­tal Affairs and Trans­port; Prof. Andrea Robot­z­ki, Head of KIT’s Depart­ment of Biol­o­gy, Chem­istry, and Process Engi­neer­ing. (Pho­to: Amadeus Bram­siepe, KIT).

As “The Research Uni­ver­si­ty in the Helmholtz Asso­ci­a­tion”, KIT cre­ates and imparts knowl­edge for soci­ety and the envi­ron­ment. The aim is to make sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the glob­al chal­lenges in the fields of ener­gy, mobil­i­ty and infor­ma­tion. To this end, around 9,800 employ­ees work togeth­er on a broad dis­ci­pli­nary basis in the nat­ur­al sci­ences, engi­neer­ing, eco­nom­ics, and the human­i­ties and social sci­ences. KIT pre­pares its 22,300 stu­dents for respon­si­ble tasks in soci­ety, indus­try, and sci­ence through research-ori­ent­ed uni­ver­si­ty stud­ies. KIT’s inno­va­tion activ­i­ties bridge the gap between knowl­edge and appli­ca­tion for the ben­e­fit of soci­ety, eco­nom­ic pros­per­i­ty, and the preser­va­tion of our nat­ur­al resources. KIT is one of the Ger­man uni­ver­si­ties of excellence.