The main idea: using digital technology to drive forward the energy transition

The model regions – or showcases – are using digital technology to master the technical and business-related challenges linked to the energy transition. They are developing secure and efficient processes that are suitable for the mass market, and they are exploring innovative technologies and market mechanisms for flexible and smart grids and markets.

For example, they are developing digital market platforms for energy exchange, allowing the energy from a large number of small residential battery storage units to be pooled to stabilise the grid; they are also introducing smart control technology in manufacturing companies, helping these to make their production more flexible and to save costs by automatically increasing production at times when electricity prices are low.

These examples show that the SINTEG Programme covers all parts of the energy infrastructure and all stakeholders and uses digital technology to connect these across a digital energy network.

The SINTEG Programme is developing model solutions for addressing technical, business-related and legal challenges

How can the functioning of the grid be ensured if – at times – 100 per cent of the electricity come from renewable sources? What new business models will emerge as digitalisation picks up speed? How can the electricity, heat and transport sectors be coupled efficiently? In order to answer these questions, SINTEG is addressing the technical, business-related and legal challenges involved. It is seeking to drive forward the development of a smart energy supply, the goals being:

  • to ensure the efficient and secure operation of the grid, even as large parts of the electricity generated are renewables-based
  • to harness the potential of making the grid and the market more efficient and flexible
  • to ensure that all players of the smart energy system work together in an efficient and secure manner
  • to make more efficient use of existing grid structures
  • to reduce the need for grid expansion in the distribution network, and
  • to develop new business models in the energy sector.

Using regulatory testbeds to drive forward the digitalisation of the energy transition

Another goal of the SINTEG programme is to gain practical experience and to use this to enhance the regulatory framework. The Federal Government has therefore adopted an ordinance that provides a temporary framework for experimenting. The ordinance allows participants of the SINTEG programme to test new technologies, procedures and business models – for example in the areas of digitalisation and the coupling of the electricity and heat sectors – and compensates them for the economic disadvantages that result out of these activities. This helps speed up the process of moving innovations from the lab to the stage of practical testing and on to the market. SINTEG therefore acts as a regulatory testbed for the smart energy supply of the future.

Implementation: the SINTEG model regions are testing the energy transition in practice

The showcases bring together partners from science and academia, industry and civil society who work towards making the energy transition a success. These partners have expertise in a wide range of different sectors – from energy and ICT all the way to municipal administration. Since 2017, more than 300 companies, research institutes, municipalities, districts and Länder have worked towards implementing the vision to transform Germany’s energy supply. An overview of the showcases can be found here.

Working groups established as part of the SINTEG Programme

Digitalisation and the energy transition involve many cross-cutting issues. To take account of this fact, six working groups have been established as part of the SINTEG Programme. The following areas are being addressed:

  • Legal framework

The practical experience gained from using new technologies, procedures and business models as part of the ‘SINTEG regulatory testbed’ is to be used to enhance the regulatory framework. In order for this to be achieved, the showcases engage in regular dialogue with one another. An important basis for this is the SINTEG ordinance adopted by the Federal Government, which provides SINTEG participants with a temporary framework for experimenting.

  • Digital business models

SINTEG places a key focus on using digital technology to drive forward the energy transition. But which business models will be developed? The working group looks at the aggregation, processing and evaluation of energy-related data and the possibilities opened up by these.

  • Standardisation

The energy transition gives rise to the creation of smart grids. This creates new challenges for standardisation. The working group therefore works towards enhancing the standards that are currently in place.

  • Smart European energy regions

Other European regions are also driving forward the energy transition using digital means. The working group therefore seeks to link up these regions with the showcases in order to promote dialogue, mutual learning and cooperation.

  • IT security

Smart grids are critical infrastructure and therefore need to be protected. The working group will develop the IT security solutions needed for this and share its experience with other stakeholders at European level.

  • Energy skills

Digitalisation requires the employees working in the energy sector to acquire new skills. The working group looks at the changing working environment and the training and skills development of employees needed as a result.

Accompanying research and project management

The role of accompanying research

The scientific research accompanying the SINTEG Funding Programme is intended to provide support for the showcase regions. It includes knowledge and network management, monitoring and evaluation activities and communication.
Accompanying research includes

  • Developing blueprints
  • Presenting knowledge and results
  • Using synergies by working on cross-cutting issues
  • Linking up the stakeholders of the SINTEG innovation system
  • Improving visibility in Germany and abroad
  • Establishing international contact networks
  • Launching strategic discussions on commercialisation and marketing options
  • Engaging in dialogue on how the objectives that have been set can be met
  • Using innovative methods to move forward a particular issue if necessary
  • Evaluating the programme to assess whether the goals have been met, and improving the effectiveness at the programme level

Project management

Project Management Jülich (PtJ) has been commissioned by several ministries to implement research and innovation funding programmes both at technical and organisational level and in line with the latest funding guidelines. For SINTEG, PtJ has been charged with project funding and support with the management of the programme.

The SINTEG showcases project will run for four years.