The “New network structures” Kopernikus project: ENSURE (New Energy Network StructURes for the Energiewende)
The objectives set for the Energiewende up to 2050 are achievable only if the number and performance of installed renewable energy facilities increase significantly. Far-reaching changes to the electricity supply system are needed if we are to continue to guarantee security of supply. These include both the further expansion of a central energy distribution system and the creation of decentralised structures at regional level. All the measures aimed at optimising energy supply are both accompanied and driven by the progressive digitalisation of the energy industry and the growing inter-linking of the various sectors (electricity, gas, heat, transport).
What is the objective of the Kopernikus project?
The research work will contribute to the successful economic shaping of the Energiewende. The concrete proposals emerging from the project for future structures and management strategies will lead to improvements in the performance and efficiency of the system as a whole, with the aim of reducing costs for both the operator and the end-customer.
To adapt the electricity supply to the changes accompanying the Energiewende, a rational structure comprising both centralised and decentralised supply needs to be identified. The project divides into three key topics: researching new system structures, stable system management mechanisms and the integration of new technologies into the supply system. A further topic comprises the subsequent implementation and testing of the overall energy supply system in the form of an industrial-scale network demonstrator. All the activities are to be accompanied by a comprehensive analysis of the socio-economic factors. This element involves all stakeholders including prosumers (producer-consumers) and runs alongside the key topics above.
What makes the consortium so attractive?
ENSURE is an interdisciplinary consortium comprising established partners from the worlds of science, business and civil society. Six core partners have taken on the leadership of the project, being among the best-known actors in the relevant areas of research and application. The broad spectrum the research addresses is reflected in the presence of a further 17 prominent partners in the selected consortium, including from civil society. The 23 consortium partners are organised in a flexible structure which explicitly provides for the integration of further partners. The selection of a spokesman for the project, determined during the course of the project depending on the research topics, fits with this form of organisation. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Holger Hanselka, the President of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, is acting as the spokesman for the overall consortium during the first project phase.
Contribution to the energy system
The ENSURE project contributes substantially to optimisation of the future energy system, in that the results of the research may prevent misplaced investment and allow existing infrastructures to be expanded in a targeted fashion. The current network development plan (NEP 2025) provides for up to €34,000 million for the investment costs alone for the required expansion of the network up to 2025, clearly showing the enormous economic leverage of this project. At the same time, increased system efficiency offers ecological advantages through reduction in the primary energy required.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Holger Hanselka