Getting the grid prepared for the increased use of renewable energy sources is the goal of the Helmholtz Energy Alliance “Technologies for the Future Power Grid”coordinated by KIT. Helmholtz researchers are developing solutions for a flexible and reliable grid which manages the fluctuating power supply from renewable energy sources in cooperation with university partners and utilities. Another focus of the research activities is the interconnection of the electric power grid with the existing gas distribution network in order to use gas distribution networks as energy storages. The Helmholtz Association will subsidise the Energy Alliance with 3.2 million Euros from its Initiative and Networking Fund in 2013 and 2014.
The energy turnaround and the therefore increased use of renewable energy sources requires a conversion of the power grid. Due to the increased electric power generated by wind and photovoltaic power plants and the emerging electric mobility, it is foreseeable that today’s power grid will not be able to meet future requirements. “The expansion and alteration of the grid is of very high importance if one wants to ensure reliable and affordable future energy supplies,” explains Professor Thomas Leibfried, head of KIT’s Institute of Electric Energy Systems and High-Voltage Technology (Institut für Elektroenergiesysteme und Hochspannungstechnik – IEH). Together with Professor Mathias Noe, head of KIT’s Institute for Technical Physics, Leibfried acts as scientific spokesperson of the alliance. “Such alteration,” Leibfried says “is not only important from the point of view of Germany but also from the European perspective: Since today’s 400 kV grid is being operated throughout Europe, issues of grid stability cannot be solved in purely regional or purely national contexts.”
Institutes of the Technische Universität Darmstadt, Technische Universität Dortmund, and RWTH Aachen complete the skills and capabilities contributed by KIT as partners in the alliance. Forschungszentrum Jülich and the utilities EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG, MAINOVA AG, and Stadtwerke Karlsruhe Netze GmbH act as associated partners.