Smart grid

Germany's energy supply is in a state of flux! To further their shift in energy policy, Germany's federal government aims to increase the share of renewable energies contributing to the gross electricity consumption — from roughly 30% in 2016, to a minimum of 80% by 2050. Simultaneously, it aims to complete the phase-out of nuclear energy by 2022. More specifically, this implies a paradigm shift from an established, centralized energy supply system to a decentralized energy supply system with a sharp focus on renewable energies — the latter being yet unknown anywhere in the world.

Contrary to conventional nuclear and coal-based power, power production via renewable energy sources is heavily dependent on the current weather situation, which can fluctuate heavily, depending on individual geographical location. Consumers, however, want power even if the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing at a specific time. Thus, the crux of the energy industry's future lies in matching power supply to demand at any given time.

This precise coordination of supply and demand can only work if both sides can provide a minimum of flexibility: In other words, power production and consumption have to be able to be switched on and off based on current demands. This is the scope of intelligent power networks — so-called "smart grids"!

In the future, smart grids will establish a spatial balance between the energy flows of producer and consumer and will maintain the time coordination via controlling flexible producers, energy loads and storage. This is made possible through increasing interconnection of all participants, including grid operation, renewable energy production, Smart Home and Industry 4.0.

At Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen (University of Applied Sciences), smart grids are an integral part of the Electrical Engineering and Information Technology department's research and study. An introduction to the field of smart grids and energy storage as well as related technologies is provided by the lecture "Smart Grids and Energy Storages", offered as a compulsory course to students of the specialization field "Electrical Engineering for Renewable Energy Systems" (ERE) and as an an elective course to students of all other specialization fields of the "Electrical Engineering and Information Technology" Bachelor's program. Laboratories accompanying these lectures and the department's numerous relationships with industry and grid operators provide our students with invaluable first-hand experience.

With the Institute for High-Performance Electronics and Electrical Systems, our department is part of a scientific center overarching the entire Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen and unifying study and research concerning the field of electrical energy engineering. Its primary focus lies in the grid connection of renewable energy sources, improving the high-performance electronic transformers' energy-efficiency scales and improving grid integration via contributions to grid regulation as well as grid stabilization.