North-east Germany produces fantastic volumes of renewable energy, which is particularly thanks to its wind power capacities – capacities that are growing. But on windless nights, coal and gas power plants have to step in. Similarly, there are days when some regions generate triple the wind or solar power they need. This creates the risk of bottlenecks in the transmission and distribution grid that transport the electricity generated over long distances to the cities and factories.
In order for the grid to remain stable, supply and demand must be in balance. This can be achieved by:
- expanding the grid
- using the flexibility of producers and of consumers, and
- utilising storage technologies.
WindNODE is placing a focus on the flexibility that consumers can offer: if customers’ electricity consumption can be well adapted to the fluctuating generation from wind and flexibilities can be leveraged in the right place, grid overloads can be avoided. The project therefore involves consumers from industry, the retail trade and residential areas who would like to adapt their energy consumption to the expected electricity production. In the long term, this provision of flexibility also needs to be financially worthwhile. This is why the WindNODE project is focusing on new marketplaces for flexibility and a new market design.
Beyond identifying and leveraging flexibilities in the traditional electricity sector, WindNODE is also working to integrate sector coupling (power-to-heat, power-to-cool, electric mobility) as a flexibility option and is investigating what information and communication technology and regulatory framework are needed for this.
In all of the work being undertaken as part of the WindNODE project, the focus is on the user whom the smart energy system is intended to serve. WindNODE offers a number of different ways for people to broaden their knowledge and get involved – for example
- ‘energy hackdays’ where participants can work on developing new digital business models based on an open data portal
- the ‘WindNODE Challenge’, which specifically seeks to involve start-ups and innovators, and
- completely new formats from ‘Easy-to-understand electricity’ through to ‘Energy and art’ to help people discover and play a part in shaping the energy transition.
Participants of these events can see for themselves how all of these aspects work. The WindNODE opens up more than 20 factories, supermarkets ad residential areas where members of the public can discover how production, cooling and heating can be adapted to the energy available from wind and sun.