© Oliver Brückl

Network planning for the power grid of the future

The Research Center for Energy Networks and Energy Storage (FENES) at the East Bavarian Technical University Regensburg (OTH Regensburg) works with the municipal utilities of Forchheim and Waldmünchen in the STROM research network.

More photovoltaic systems, more e-mobility, increased use of heat pumps and combined heat and power plants: This poses challenges for energy suppliers in planning and operating the power grid of the future. Together with the municipal utilities of Forchheim and Waldmünchen, the Research Center for Energy Networks and Energy Storage (FENES) at the Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule Regensburg (OTH Regensburg) is developing technically and economically sustainable network planning in urban distribution network structures. It is thus part of the STROM research network, in which universities, municipal companies and industrial partners from all over Bavaria are involved. The Bavarian Research Foundation is providing around 1.9 million euros for the project.

Experts are convinced that CO2 emissions in Germany can be further reduced if electricity from renewable energies increasingly replaces fossil fuels in the transport and heating sectors. The research association “Energy – SecToRk Coupling and Micro-Grids”, or STROM for short, is working on how the coupling of these sectors can succeed. The project brings together researchers from Ansbach University of Applied Sciences, Ingolstadt Technical University, Munich University of Applied Sciences, Munich Technical University and Regensburg University of Applied Sciences, as well as 26 companies from the energy sector.

“It is undisputed that a large part of the changes brought about by the energy transition as well as the advancing sector coupling will have an impact on the distribution grid level and thus also on the grid areas of many municipal utilities,” says Prof. Dr.-Ing. Oliver Brückl, who heads the project at the Research Center for Energy Networks and Energy Storage (FENES) at OTH Regensburg. Together with his research assistant Hermann Kraus, M.Sc., and the municipal utilities of Forchheim and Waldmünchen, Prof. Brückl wants to “develop a technically and economically sustainable grid planning”. This will take into account scenarios for the future development of procurement and generation plants, e-mobility and CHP plants in the grid area of the municipal utilities.

The investigations are to show which effects the coupling of the heat and transport sector with the electricity sector has on the electricity grid and which changes result in the structure of the electricity grid as well as in the behaviour of the connected customers. In the consideration of future sensible network planning measures, among other things, the use of a storage system for self-optimisation of the municipal utilities is to be analysed in order to be able to estimate the effects on the electricity network and to demonstrate the potential of cost savings. “Ultimately, recommendations for action are to be derived from the project results and a generally applicable guideline for distribution system operators is to be developed,” says Brückl.

With the participation of numerous industrial partners in the network, a comprehensive range of project results is to be achieved and thus the topic of sector coupling is to be considered in its entirety.