© Markus Breig | KIT

Ener­gy tran­si­tion: New tech­nolo­gies for sec­tor coupling

Intel­li­gent net­work­ing, con­trol and opti­miza­tion of elec­tric­i­ty, heat and gas sup­ply are the key to a cli­mate-neu­tral ener­gy sys­tem. The Karl­sruhe Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy (KIT) offers a unique research infra­struc­ture for the trans­dis­ci­pli­nary devel­op­ment and test­ing of new strate­gies and tech­nolo­gies for sec­tor cou­pling (SEKO) on a pilot plant scale. On the way to a new, holis­tic mod­el­ling sys­tem, the researchers have reached the first mile­stones. The Fed­er­al Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion and Research (BMBF) is increas­ing its fund­ing for the SEKO Real Lab­o­ra­to­ry by 10 mil­lion euros to a total of 16.5 mil­lion euros.

“Our goal is to con­sid­er all forms of ener­gy in an over­all mod­el and to gen­er­ate, store, and con­vert them accord­ing to demand,” explains Pro­fes­sor Joachim Knebel, KIT coor­di­na­tor of the SEKO research project. In this project, new and promis­ing com­pu­ta­tion­al mod­els and tools are being devel­oped. They make it pos­si­ble to sim­u­late not only the behav­ior of indi­vid­ual com­po­nents such as bat­ter­ies, gas tur­bines, elec­trol­y­sers, pow­er con­vert­ers or gen­er­a­tors in real time and on the basis of real data, but also their inter­ac­tion in the con­text of the expect­ed demand and the cur­rent grid capac­i­ties. “In our real lab, we can map all the ener­gy con­ver­sion process­es and path­ways that will be pos­si­ble in the future, from pow­er-to‑X to com­bined heat and pow­er to geot­her­mal appli­ca­tions, on a pilot plant scale or as a dig­i­tal twin,” says Knebel.

Fore­casts of loads on elec­tric­i­ty, gas and heat­ing networks

Among oth­er things, the sci­en­tists have suc­ceed­ed in com­bin­ing the ther­mal behav­iour of build­ings in a sin­gle sim­u­la­tion mod­el. It enables fore­casts to be made of heat con­sump­tion, heat­ing and cool­ing require­ments and the result­ing loads on the elec­tric­i­ty, gas and heat­ing net­works. The data required for this were pro­vid­ed by the mod­el build­ings of the Liv­ing Lab Ener­gy Cam­pus (LLEC) with office build­ings and lab­o­ra­to­ry halls, which are used by KIT employ­ees in real oper­a­tion and rep­re­sent the entire range of tech­nolo­gies for heat­ing and cool­ing sup­ply. This data was eval­u­at­ed and processed in the Ener­gy Lab 2.0. Along­side the LLEC, it forms the sec­ond impor­tant pil­lar of the infra­struc­ture for SEKO research. With the Smart Ener­gy Sys­tem Sim­u­la­tion and Con­trol Cen­ter (SenSS­iCC), the Ener­gy Lab 2.0 includes not only a pho­to­volta­ic field, a large bat­tery stor­age facil­i­ty, a gas tur­bine test stand and con­tain­er plants for metha­na­tion (pow­er-to-gas) and pow­er-to-liq­uid syn­the­sis, but also the cen­tral con­trol room for the real laboratory.

Sce­nar­ios for the ener­gy sup­ply in the over­all system

“SEKO allows us to work with a young team across insti­tutes and fac­ul­ties on a new mod­el­ling approach that cap­tures the increas­ing­ly com­plex sce­nar­ios for ener­gy sup­ply in an over­all sys­tem,” Knebel empha­sis­es. “With the help of such a mod­el, we can describe and eval­u­ate pos­si­ble trans­for­ma­tion paths with the goal of cli­mate neu­tral­i­ty by 2045.” So far, the BMBF has fund­ed four sub­pro­jects with a vol­ume of 6.5 mil­lion euros with­in the frame­work of SEKO. With a view to sec­tor cou­pling, these address, among oth­er things, elec­tri­cal dis­tri­b­u­tion net­works, the build­ing heat­ing sec­tor, tech­nolo­gies for gas sup­ply and infor­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies for an intel­li­gent, sta­ble and secure ener­gy sys­tem. With the bud­get increase of ten mil­lion euros, two fur­ther work pack­ages can now be launched, one focus­ing on build­ing-inte­grat­ed CO2 cap­ture and con­ver­sion and the oth­er on a nov­el pow­er-to-liq­uid process. The first work pack­age focus­es on the sys­tem design, oper­at­ing behav­iour and ener­gy require­ments of a new gen­er­a­tion of air con­di­tion­ing and ven­ti­la­tion sys­tems that could turn build­ings into CO2 sinks through direct air fil­tra­tion. In the sec­ond work pack­age, an inte­grat­ed process will be val­i­dat­ed for the first time in a pilot plant that syn­er­gis­ti­cal­ly com­bines the pro­duc­tion of syn­thet­ic methanol from CO2 from bio­gas plants or sewage treat­ment plants and green hydro­gen from electrolysis.

The SEKO research project, includ­ing the top-up, will run until March 2023. The KIT insti­tutes involved are the Insti­tute of Micro­process Engi­neer­ing, the Insti­tute of Automa­tion and Applied Com­put­er Sci­ence, the Insti­tute of Tech­ni­cal Chem­istry, the Insti­tute of Elec­tri­cal Ener­gy Sys­tems and High Volt­age Engi­neer­ing, the Insti­tute of Tech­ni­cal Physics, the Insti­tute of Elec­tri­cal Engi­neer­ing, the Insti­tute of Light Engi­neer­ing, and the Engler-Bunte Insti­tute. (sur)

Cap­tion: Data from real oper­a­tion in the mod­el hous­es at KIT (left) pro­vide the basis for fore­casts of loads on the elec­tric­i­ty, gas and heat­ing net­works. (Pho­to: Markus Breig, KIT)