On your marks. Get set. Energy transition!

Fit4eChange research project begins

Fit4eChange research project begins

The SPIN (Spitzencluster Industrielle Innovationen – Leading-Edge Cluster for Industrial Innovations), which is supported by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, has ambitious goals: The alliance of industry, the energy sector, digital technology and research institutions in the Ruhr metropolitan region wants to make an important contribution to meeting the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement and driving forward industrial digitalisation. A significant milestone has now been reached: the state of North Rhine-Westphalia is funding five SPIN research projects with a total of €8 million. Turck duotec is one of the partners in the Fit4eChange project, which gets distribution grids ready for the energy transition.

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement envisages limiting global warming to below two degrees compared to the pre-industrial era. For the Federal Republic of Germany, this means preparing the electrical grids for an increasing influx of decentralised generators, such as photovoltaic systems or micro-cogeneration plants. This applies in particular to the low-voltage distribution grids that were mainly built in the 1970s, which transmit the energy generated to consumers. The Fit4eChange research project is pursuing the goal of creating an intelligent load management system for these grids. The Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems (Duisburg), Duisburger Versorgungs- und Verkehrsgesellschaft mbH, ELE Verteilnetz GmbH (Gelsenkirchen), grandcentrix GmbH (Dortmund), Turck duotec GmbH (Halver) and Vodafone GmbH (Düsseldorf) are involved in the project.

From pure distribution to dynamic loads

Arthur Rönisch (Turck duotec) and Gerd vom Bögel (Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems) receive the approval for funding for the Fit4eChange project from NRW Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy Prof. Andreas Pinkwart.

The energy transition will significantly change the power flows in the distribution grids and lead to dynamic fluctuations. However, the existing structures can only be utilised optimally if they are equipped for dynamic load operation. Doing so allows for forecasts to be made about usage behaviour and for the conditions needed for intelligently managing charging stations in the booming e-mobility sector to be met. To this end, the digitalisation of electric power distribution is inevitable.

The existing low-voltage distribution networks are designed to be purely supply units. Therefore, the electrical grid operators are not currently in a position to give a precise definition of how these grids will be utilised. They must be properly equipped to be able make the best possible use of them and make reliable forecasts. To do this, the Fit4eChange research project is researching an intelligent load management system based on a networked sensor system. The sensors, which are to be developed by Turck duotec, will provide information about the condition of components such as transformers, cable distribution cabinets, cables and joints. The demand for the sensors required for networked sensor technology is enormous. A large city such as Cologne, which has around 4,000 transformers and 17,000 cable distributors, needs 200,000 sensors alone. Taking into account the entire nationwide distribution network, this results in a total demand of over 15 million sensor systems. If you look beyond the national borders of Germany and consider all the states in the EU, the application potential is staggering.

Small, reliable and durable

This results in the following requirements: the sensors must be cost-effective and maintenance-free. Such current detectors are currently not available on the market. The aim is to develop sensors that work without batteries, meet their energy needs via energy harvesting and function according to the plug-and-work principle. These tasks will be performed using sensor technology in the Internet of Things (IoT) and the LPWAN (low-power wide-area network), which is becoming increasingly available almost everywhere. Low-cost, highly integrated sensors are being developed that can be easily retrofitted during operation. These sensors will see German electrical grid not only ready for the energy transition, but also ready to pave the way to climate neutrality.

You can find more information about the project here: Project Fit4eChange [...]

 

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