Every year in Germany, more and more independent producers of renewable energy are feeding into the electricity grid, from small solar farms to factories. In 2020, the share of “indie” producers was up to 45 percent. While this is good news for Energy Transition, it also requires increasingly large sums to be outlaid on smoothing out the fluctuations in supply.
That’s why in 2018 EASY-RES was launched: A Europe-wide research project to investigate how the grid could be more efficiently stabilised, towards the target of 100 percent renewables. The project, which brought together computer scientists, engineers and electricity suppliers from across Europe, is now entering its final phase.
"For a power grid to be stable, it is not only necessary to feed in enough power," says Professor Hermann de Meer, chair of computer networks and computer communication at the University of Passau (which plays a central role in EASY-RES) in a . "Additional services are needed: For example, someone has to keep the power frequency in the grid constant and the grid has to be inert, meaning it has to automatically cushion small fluctuations."
De Meer points out that the current, centrally-managed system is “inefficient”, “unstable" and unsustainable. "Almost a third of the electricity in the grid is needed just for the various stabilisation services. That requires expensive infrastructure…there are large transmission losses and it pollutes the environment."
The platform must be able to coordinate access for thousands of devices, be resilient to faulty data and above all, it must not fail and or be manipulable. The result is a “virtual power plant” that not only supplies electricity, but also stabilises the grid, for example by using intelligent storage. EASY-RES is part of the EU's Horizon2020 programme and is funded until the end of 2021 with a total of EUR 4.5 million.