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The transition from centralized, conventional energy sources to decentralized photovoltaic and wind power plants is forcing the development of new power grid designs, with major pilot projects already underway. You’ll find the requisite technologies at HANNOVER MESSE’s Energy show , within the scope of the new "Grid Technology" display in Hall 13, plus the "Energy Management" showcase in Hall 12.

Energy utilities and electrical equipment manufacturers face the same challenge in terms of future power grid designs. At the beginning of December 2015, 800 specialists came together at the Grid Technology/Grid Operation Forum (FNN), sponsored by the Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (VDE), to discuss the requirements for the construction and secure operation of tomorrow’s power grids. As the experts emphasized, it will be necessary to transition from mere power grids to all-embracing power grid systems, while at the same time focusing heavily on the issue of secure operations. The challenge is to unite electrical engineering with IT and telecommunications – technologies which have so far not been subject to the same stringent operational security standards placed on power grids.

Dr. Stefan Küppers, President of VDE|FNN Managing Director of Westnetz GmbH, summarizes the requirements as follows: "Above all, tomorrow’s grids need to be more flexible and communicative and, as a consequence, more intelligent than today’s. They must be capable of reacting to extremely strong fluctuations – above all, in terms of power feeds, but also in terms of alternating levels of consumption – and finally, in the future, to new kinds of storage systems as well."

Energy utilities and electrical engineering equipment manufacturers are working on pilot projects to construct and field-test the grids of the future. The Oldenburg-based EWE for instance is currently installing the technology for "enera" – a project dedicated to installing and operating a highly dynamic energy system. In this context, researchers are currently studying the measuring technology necessary in households as well as the power distribution network, along with the data density to be expected by grid operators. Apart from measured power values in the grid, these calculations will also be based on customer and market data. The plan is to continuously incorporate these data from the various sources into a "data ocean". The intention is to enable power utilities to manage a highly dynamic energy system in which the operator knows what is happening in the distribution grid every single second. This "smart grid" can also be connected with power markets where surpluses and flexibility options can be traded.

Siemens, Wien Energie and additional partners are pursuing a similar approach in a new urban development project slated to create a new suburb – Seestadt Aspern – on the outskirts of Vienna, Austria. Located on the grounds of a former airport, the development project envisages the construction of some 10,500 residential units, along with shops, education and research institutions and an industrial park by 2028 – creating some 20,000 jobs in the process. To date, over 3,400 residential units have already been completed.

What makes the Seestadt Aspern project so special is that part of the buildings and the low-voltage power grid are intended to serve as a laboratory for the energy transition and future grid development. Apart from a great deal of measuring technology and equipment, three of the buildings will also be equipped with electric and thermal energy storage systems, heat pumps, photovoltaic systems and solar-thermal collectors.The local power grid is moreover designed to enable special tests to be run, with 12 transformer stations housing a total of 23 transformers based on a range of different technologies.

Needless to say, the Seestadt Aspern project is not limited to pure technology issues. Users will also be allowed to sell flexibility options arising from their optimized consumption and use of storage systems. This power consumption and grid performance data will be used to study exactly what goes on in the low-voltage grid at all times and help define the technical limits of transformers and power lines. The measurements and collection of data already began in autumn 2015. In around one year’s time, project participants are expecting the initial findings from the research team.

Under the official slogan of "Integrated Energy", some 1,300 companies will be represented at HANNOVER MESSE’s Energy fair to reveal the shape of things to come for energy systems. The focus this year is on the " Integrated Energy Plaza ", with the spotlight on the interplay of various energy technologies.