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Sector coupling is an essential element of the decarbonisation of Germany’s energy supply.

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What effect will coupling the district heating network to local transport have on the electricity grid? And what impact will the energy shift have on the behaviour of consumers? These and other questions are to be explored in the STROM research network, which brings together universities and utilities companies from all over Bavaria in southern Germany, as well as 26 industrial partners.

The network is spearheaded by the Research Centre for Energy Networks and Energy Storage (FENES) at the Regensburg University of Applied Sciences (OTH Regensburg). The Bavarian Research Foundation is providing funding of EUR 1.9 million.

“Sector coupling” is an essential element of the decarbonisation of Germany’s energy supply, but there are still many unknowns about how it will work in practice. The increased usage of photovoltaic systems, heat pumps, combined heat and power units, as well as integrated electromobility and charging infrastructure, poses significant challenges for the companies supplying the electricity in terms of infrastructure, planning and operations.

The STROM association (which stands for "Energy – SecToRcoupling and Micro-Grids”) will investigate the best ways – technically and economically – to implement sector coupling in urban electricity distribution networks. The Ansbach University of Applied Sciences, Ingolstadt Technical University, Munich University of Applied Sciences and the Munich Technical University are also involved in the research.

"Ultimately, recommendations for action are to be derived from the project results and a generally applicable guideline for distribution grid operators is to be developed," comments Professor Oliver Brückl, who heads the project at FENES, in a press release.