Fraun­hofer IT plat­form syn­chro­nizes elec­tric­i­ty sup­ply and demand

In 2045, elec­tric­i­ty in Ger­many is to come entire­ly from renew­able sources. A key chal­lenge is that wind and solar pro­vide elec­tric­i­ty in a fluc­tu­at­ing man­ner. In the Coper­ni­cus project Syn­Ergie, the Fraun­hofer Insti­tute for Man­u­fac­tur­ing Engi­neer­ing and Automa­tion IPA is work­ing with part­ners to devel­op an ener­gy syn­chro­niza­tion plat­form that will enable indus­try to com­pen­sate for these fluc­tu­a­tions and syn­chro­nize pro­duc­tion with pow­er gen­er­a­tion. In addi­tion, the researchers at Fraun­hofer IPA are cur­rent­ly imple­ment­ing a first pow­er-sav­ing appli­ca­tion for the IT platform.

Ger­many is expect­ed to be large­ly cli­mate-neu­tral by the mid­dle of this cen­tu­ry. How­ev­er, the increas­ing use of elec­tric­i­ty from renew­able sources leads to an increas­ing­ly volatile elec­tric­i­ty sup­ply due to weath­er depen­den­cy. To ensure that the bal­ance of sup­ply and demand in the elec­tric­i­ty sys­tem can be main­tained at all times, mea­sures are need­ed to bal­ance out these fluc­tu­a­tions. Ener­gy-inten­sive indus­tri­al process­es con­tain a high poten­tial for flex­i­bil­i­ty to counter these fluc­tu­a­tions through changes in elec­tric­i­ty demand. In the Coper­ni­cus project Syn­Ergie with more than 90 part­ners (see box), 18 part­ners from indus­try and research are cur­rent­ly work­ing on an ener­gy syn­chro­niza­tion plat­form that can effec­tive­ly syn­chro­nize the ener­gy demand of indi­vid­ual indus­tri­al com­pa­nies with the volatile ener­gy sup­ply. In the future, this plat­form will be used to coor­di­nate sup­ply and demand, and the entire process of ener­gy flex­i­bil­i­ty trad­ing from the machine to the mar­kets will be auto­mat­ed and stan­dard­ized by means of the IT plat­form and its ser­vices, and mapped in a ref­er­ence archi­tec­ture. Dig­i­tal ser­vices run­ning on the plat­form access data from com­pa­nies’ sys­tem or assets and deter­mine the on-demand use of var­i­ous flex­i­bil­i­ty mea­sures that are avail­able. Com­ple­tion of devel­op­ments on the ref­er­ence archi­tec­ture is planned for the end of 2022. These are to be test­ed in tri­al oper­a­tion with numer­ous research and indus­tri­al demon­stra­tors, espe­cial­ly in the ener­gy-flex­i­ble mod­el region of Augs­burg. Fraun­hofer IPA is coor­di­nat­ing the project togeth­er with the Insti­tute for Ener­gy Effi­cien­cy in Pro­duc­tion (EEP) at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Stuttgart.

“In the project, we are devel­op­ing pro­duc­tion and cross-sec­tion tech­nolo­gies that we are mak­ing more flex­i­ble, as well as the nec­es­sary IT back­bone to con­trol the plants in an ener­gy-flex­i­ble man­ner and to use the flex­i­bil­i­ty ben­e­fi­cial­ly on the ener­gy mar­ket. So we have two main areas of focus: the IT sys­tems with the cor­re­spond­ing ser­vices, fore­cast­ing algo­rithms and aggre­ga­tion algo­rithms, and the var­i­ous tech­no­log­i­cal solu­tions for syn­chro­niz­ing pro­duc­tion with pow­er gen­er­a­tion or decou­pling the ener­gy con­sump­tion of the process from the pow­er con­sump­tion at the grid con­nec­tion point,” explains Ozan Yesi­lyurt, a sci­en­tist at Fraun­hofer IPA.

Numer­ous ques­tions are addressed with the ener­gy syn­chro­niza­tion plat­form: What is the cur­rent elec­tric­i­ty sup­ply on the mar­ket — are there short­ages or sur­plus­es? How will elec­tric­i­ty prices devel­op? How long and how quick­ly do you have to react? Which com­pa­ny can step in right now to make up for this short­age or sur­plus? Intel­li­gent con­trol is nec­es­sary for this bal­anc­ing of flex­i­bil­i­ty sup­ply and demand. “The IT plat­form is designed to bring com­pa­nies togeth­er with flex­i­bil­i­ty demand. Our Vir­tu­al Fort Knox cloud plat­form devel­oped at Fraun­hofer IPA serves as the basis,” says Yesi­lyurt from the “Dig­i­tal Tools in Pro­duc­tion” depart­ment at Fraun­hofer IPA.

Mar­ket and busi­ness platform

The ener­gy syn­chro­niza­tion plat­form con­sists of two sub-plat­forms, a mar­ket plat­form and an enter­prise plat­form. The lat­ter can cap­ture, man­age and aggre­gate a com­pa­ny’s indi­vid­ual ener­gy flex­i­bil­i­ties. It informs the com­pa­ny how it can use its flex­i­bil­i­ty in the mar­ket to buy ener­gy cheap­ly or sell it if it has already pur­chased it. The mar­ket plat­form, in turn, acts as a ser­vice inter­me­di­ary to ensure that com­pa­nies look­ing for flex­i­bil­i­ty are matched with sup­ply. Aggre­ga­tors, for exam­ple, can reg­is­ter on the mar­ket plat­form and report their inter­est in buy­ing or sell­ing flex­i­bil­i­ties. The mar­ket plat­form then bro­kers the busi­ness flex­i­bil­i­ties to the flex­i­bil­i­ty mar­keters. And these in turn sell the flex­i­bil­i­ty on the ener­gy exchange. The ener­gy syn­chro­niza­tion plat­form is there­fore not an ener­gy trad­ing plat­form on which ener­gy flex­i­bil­i­ties are trad­ed. Rather, it medi­ates between traders on the ener­gy exchanges and com­pa­nies that can pro­vide flexibility.

Reduc­ing elec­tric­i­ty costs with autonomous robots

Dig­i­tal ser­vices that reg­u­late the demand-ori­ent­ed use of ener­gy and help to reduce pow­er con­sump­tion play a deci­sive role. With the bat­tery usage opti­miza­tion ser­vice, Yesi­lyurt has imple­ment­ed one of these ser­vices on the com­pa­ny plat­form — it is already run­ning in test mode. With it, indus­tri­al com­pa­nies can avoid con­sump­tion load peaks: Pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies have high pow­er con­sump­tion, espe­cial­ly when all machines are in use at the same time, the pow­er con­sump­tion increas­es by leaps and bounds. These load peaks, also known as peaks, can be expen­sive for a com­pa­ny, because elec­tric­i­ty providers use pre­cise­ly these peaks to cal­cu­late the pow­er price. Addi­tion­al charges apply if they are exceed­ed. “Many com­pa­nies have dri­ver­less trans­port vehi­cles (FTFs) equipped with pow­er­ful lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies. These bat­ter­ies can be used to avoid con­sump­tion peaks. To do this, one only has to call the autonomous robots to the charg­ing sta­tions when pow­er demand increas­es and feed excess charge into the com­pa­ny’s own grid. To do this, we deter­mine the avail­abil­i­ty of the FTFs and match them with the peaks, and the plant can con­tin­ue to oper­ate,” Yesi­lyurt explains. The plants no longer have to pur­chase elec­tric­i­ty from the sup­pli­er; the bat­tery of the autonomous robots becomes the ener­gy sup­pli­er. This is also called bidi­rec­tion­al charg­ing. “So far, this con­cept only exists for e‑cars, but not for FTFs. We are doing pio­neer­ing work here, so to speak. There is no com­pa­ra­ble soft­ware ser­vice for pro­duc­tion yet.” The dig­i­tal ser­vice is already work­ing, and com­pa­nies are receiv­ing reli­able fore­casts of how much mon­ey they can save. The only draw­back is that the com­plete hard­ware, includ­ing the charg­ing sta­tions, is still missing.