Intelligent networks for controlling and balancing production and consumptionResearch project Smart Area Aachen
The turnaround in energy policy has certainly accelerated this development, as the renewable energy systems mainly supply distribution networks rather than transport networks such as large conventional power plants. In addition, consumers are increasingly generating their own electricity by using methods such as photovoltaic systems on the roofs of their houses or with small combined heat and power units.
The Smart Area Aachen research project deals with the question of how – even against the backdrop of the turnaround in energy policy – the electricity networks of the future have to be shaped and how the energy industry can adjust accordingly. Specific goals include the construction, operation and research of a smart grid, i.e. a smart grid in the city of Aachen. As a result, the function of the electricity supply will be considered to be a system-based challenge which is made up of components from energy technology as well as information and communication technology.
In addition to STAWAG being the consortium manager, a further 12 partners from industry, standardisation and research are involved in the project. Together, they develop components as well as operating and network planning concepts which are then tested on the STAWAG electricity grid. Industrial partners include ABB, BET, KISTERS, Nexans, MR, PSI and SAG, while VDE|DKE is a partner from the standardisation field. Contributing researchers include the IFHT and IAEW institutes from the RWTH Aachen University, the affiliated FGH institute as well as the ie3 institute from the TU Dortmund University.
The project is divided into the following collaborative projects: “Intelligent Local Network Stations”, “Power Quality”, “Communication Infrastructure”, “Forecast Network Conditions”, “Electricity Grid Planning” and “Maintenance” (anticipated in mid-2013). Overriding these collaborative projects is an accompanying research which is dedicated to the coordination and transfer between the collaborative projects as well as standardisation issues and the utilisation of the obtained knowledge.
The first projects of the Smart Area Aachen research group started last year and each one will run for about four years. The areas which have been worked on are also mentioned in the federal government’s energy concept: “An efficient grid infrastructure for electricity and the integration of renewable energies.”
STAWAG (Stadtwerke Aachen Aktiengesellschaft) has made a name for itself as a pioneer of innovation and for the use of renewable energies. Back in 1991, we implemented the first solar façade and in 1995 we introduced the cost-covering reimbursement for solar electricity in Aachen. When we supplied the natural gas network with biogas in 2006, we were the first company in Germany to do so. Using our own facilities, we aim to produce around 600 gigawatt hours of green electricity by 2020. In addition, we have established our own company which deals solely with renewable energy systems. For over 20 years, we have been offering the people of Aachen comprehensive energy advice and accompanying support programmes for the purpose of saving energy. With a local energy efficiency concept, we and the City of Aachen could make important achievements related to energy efficiency.
Furthermore, STAWAG is involved in innovation and research projects in fields such as electric mobility, smart meters and grids as well as energy storage projects. STAWAG has over 600 employees and a turnover of about 430 million euros (2011).