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The methanisation plant of the Engler-Bunte-Institute at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

© Amadeus Brasiepe, KIT

Germany aims to make its energy supply more environmentally and climate friendly in future by switching from nuclear and fossil fuels to renewable energies and to greater energy efficiency. To ensure that the energy supply is also reliable and affordable, researchers in Karlsruhe have developed an efficient and intelligent research platform: the Energy Lab 2.0.

This research infrastructure, designed as a “living laboratory”, links electricity, heat and synthesis gas generation with energy storage devices and consumers via the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) to form a Smart Energy System Simulation and Control Centre (SEnSSiCC). The SEnSSiCC represents the “brain” of the Energy Lab 2.0, in which all incoming data is stored and displayed for subsequent detailed analysis. In addition, this enables the simulation of extreme cases or critical states in order to test them under real conditions for training or other similar purposes.

Since it was inaugurated in October 2014, researchers in Energy Lab 2.0 have, for example, been producing hydrogen from renewable energy sources, which is then used to produce fuels and can be re-electrified via micro gas turbines if required. This will be used to investigate potential ways of stabilising the future energy grid by improving the transportation, distribution, storage and use of electricity. In the longer term, there are plans to integrate additional external test facilities and parts of the energy system, such as wind farms, electrolysis plants, power plants or large industrial plants, into the overarching simulation environment. Currently, concepts for the electrical heating of solid heat storage tanks are being developed. The laboratory has been designed to operate for a period of 20 years.

Energy Lab 2.0 was developed within the scope of the KIT project in cooperation with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Jülich Research Centre (FZJ). In addition to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), it is also being funded by the state of Baden-Württemberg and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).