The model region is spread over the three Länder of North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and the Saarland. Not only do more than 22 million people live here, but these Länder are also representative of all of the major energy industry challenges that are faced in Germany and that need to be broached as part of the energy transition:
• North Rhine-Westphalia: energy consumption is higher than energy generation
In the conurbations on the Rhine and Ruhr, more electricity is consumed than the volume generated from renewable sources. The generation of renewable power from wind and solar is more likely to be located in the predominantly rural regions of the Land, especially in the high altitudes of the Sauerland and the Siegerland. When it comes to providing flexibility, the good infrastructure in these areas is of real advantage. This includes a dense energy grid as well as the various industrial sectors that can be used as consumers, producers or providers of controllable loads.
• Rhineland-Palatinate: top producer needs storage
Vineyards and castles instead of industry: Rhineland-Palatinate is predominantly rural and ideally suited for the production of renewable energy. More energy is produced from sun, wind and biogas here than is consumed by local communities. To use the surplus energy, the electricity produced from it can be transported to other regions or stored locally.
• The Saarland: storage and flexibility are needed
Despite the structural change taking place, the Saarland is still a sought-after location for energy-intensive companies, such as the steel and automotive industries. At the same time, the Saarland is a rural area and therefore a good location for the production of renewable energy. In the future, production and consumption in Saarland will be fairly well balanced.
There are a whole range of factors that can contribute to the success of the energy transition but up until now, these have often been viewed and researched in isolation. Now, as part of the DESIGNETZ project, these isolated solutions – some of which have yet to be implemented – are to be connected and combined across different grid levels and regions to form a single system. Photovoltaics, wind energy, CHP plants, storage technologies, controllable loads and above all smart distribution grids that enable various elements to be linked are important elements of DESIGNETZ. Feed-in and consumption are optimised by using available flexibility. This ensures that the energy system remains stable as the supply of green electricity increases.
The DESIGNETZ project works from ‘small to big’: First, the energy produced at distributed renewable power installations is balanced in the low-voltage grid, i.e. at local level. Only then does it pass into the medium voltage level through to the high voltage level.