One of the first consequences of Germany’s "energy transition" – a campaign to promote the use of renewable energy sources – was grid overload, i.e. more electric power than the existing infrastructure could handle due to constantly fluctuating power feeds from wind and solar power systems. In response, the German government is planning to finance and develop solutions that could guarantee safe network operation at heavy loads due to varied sources of power generation. The funds are to come from a support program entitled "Intelligent Energy Showcase – Digital Agenda for the Energy Transition", sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. All energy sector companies, whether suppliers or research institutes, can submit their project sketches by 31 May 2015. The sole prerequisite is that at least one branch office or place of business is located in Germany.
"We will be promoting at least two large-scale model regions up to a sum of 80 million euros for the purpose of bundling knowledge, experience and activities in a cross-system context," declared German Minister for Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel . In principle, any organization with adequate human and material resources can apply. Apart from a brief description of the proposed project, the application needs to focus on the transferability of the anticipated results to other regions as well as on standardization, so that the project could conceivably go international.
New jobs for Europe?
The support program is part of the German government’s " digital agenda ". The plan is to help industry and research produce results that make efficient use of new developments like Big Data, Cloud computing and smart data. The assumption is that new jobs could be created across Europe, according to Chancellor Merkel. In other words, the model is intended to apply not just to German requirements, but to contribute to a pan-European solution for handling new technologies.
Economics Minister Gabriel may not be promising any jobs, but he at least guarantees transparency: "These innovations for intelligent energy systems are intended to make it easier for consumers to participate actively in the energy market."
Proof that a support program or competition can lead to innovative solutions is provided by the HERMES AWARD at HANNOVER MESSE. As an international technology prize, this award provides a stimulus for many enterprises to flesh out innovative ideas for potential smart grids solutions. The winner in 2014 was the SAG Group, which was decorated for its "iNES" intelligent distribution management concept allowing for the gradual conversion of a conventional low-voltage network into an intelligent power grid. The product uses a decentralized intelligent software agent to control power feed and load flow situations in real time.