Duration: 10/2021 - 09/2023
Total project volume (University): 994.000 euros
Funded by: Federal Ministry of Education and Research - BMBF
With the funding approval of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project “Training, validation and benchmark tools for the development of data-driven operating and control processes for intelligent, local energy systems” (DARE) started at the beginning of October 2021. Over the next two years, scientists from the SCIP – Software Innovation Campus Paderborn will develop an open-source simulation and benchmark framework together with scientists from the Competence Center for Sustainable Energy Technology (KET) and the associated economic partners WestfalenWIND GmbH and Westfalen Weser Netz GmbH. The framework is intended to address problems that can arise when operating decentralized energy networks. The overarching goal of the project is to promote the transformation of the current energy supply system to a sustainable structure characterized by renewable energies.
Microgrids as a solution component for the energy transition
The transformation towards a sustainable, efficient and cost-effective energy supply structure is one of the central challenges of the 21st century. In order to realize the energy transition, cellular and decentralized energy systems, so-called microgrids, can represent an important solution component. Microgrids are local energy networks that operate both grid-connected and autonomously in stand-alone operation and can supply industrial companies and households with energy. They consist of energy sources (e.g. wind turbines), energy stores (e.g. batteries) and energy consumers from different sectors (electricity, heat, mobility).
“Microgrids have the advantage that, thanks to their local integration, renewable energy can be made available close to where it is consumed and can therefore be used directly by the consumer over a short distance. As a result, national energy networks can be relieved and the need for network expansion decreases. In addition, the proportion if regenerative energies increases, since the lossy transport over long distances and unnecessary shutdowns of regenerative power plants due to grid bottlenecks are avoided”, explains Dr. Gunnar Schomaker, R&D Manager “Smart Systems” at SCIP.
Central component for the production of the basic energy supply in emerging and developing countries
“The fact that microgrids can also operate autonomously in island mode is a typical case for remote, off-grid areas. In addition to the contribution to the energy transition in Europe, the microgrid represents a central building block for the production of the basic energy supply in emerging and developing countries (especially Sub-Saharan Africa), since the development of a central energy infrastructure in sparsely populated, rural areas is not feasible in the long term”, explains Dr.-Ing. Oliver Wallscheid, scientific director of the research project.
Challenges in operating microgrids
Microgrids can bring great potential for the energy transition and the establishment of the basic energy supply in emerging and developing countries, but this is also accompanied by challenges that still have to be overcome. The main challenge, and thus also the central research question of the project, is to ensure a consistent and efficient energy supply through operating and control processes. “Compared to the classic, central large networks, there are challenges with decentralized networks that affect stability, among other things. Because a secure energy supply is much more difficult to maintain in decentralized grids than in central grids, which are supported by conventional large power plants, due to the volatility of regenerative power plants and typically only low storage and reserve capacities”, explains Dr. Wallscheid.
“The traditional top-down strategies of large central networks cannot therefore be transferred to the operation and control of such stochastic, heterogeneous and volatile energy networks”, says Jun. Prof. Dr. Sebastian Peitz. “Instead, data-driven and self-learning processes are emerging as a possible solution, e.g. from the field of reinforcement learning. However, the problem here is that these learning and innovative control methods cannot be used directly in the field due to safety and availability aspects, but must first be improved and evaluated on the basis of synthetic data in a closed simulation cycle”, adds Jun. Prof. Peitz.
Although there are already solutions, they are also very heterogeneous and are often based on greatly simplified model environments, so that no statements can be made about a future transfer to practice. In addition, there is no establishment comparison standard that can be used to objectively and quantifiably evaluate data-driven controllers.
Open source simulation and benchmark framework
“The goal within our DARE project is therefore to build an open-source simulation and benchmark framework that maps the previously explained problem framework when operating decentralized energy networks. The research into data-driven controllers for energy technology should be accelerated and made comparable through easily accessible and standardized training, validation and benchmark tools”, says Dr. Wallscheid.
Through the integration of economic partners from energy technology practice, the project also attaches great importance to the depiction of realistic evaluation scenarios. The open source framework to be created will therefore also make an important contribution to the transfer of data-driven controllers from simulation to field use.
Project management: Dr.-Ing. Oliver Wallscheid, Paderborn University and Jun.-Prof. Dr. Sebastian Peitz, Paderborn University
Project partners: Kompetenzzentrum für nachhaltige Energietechnik (KET); Software Innovation Lab (SI-Lab); WestfalenWIND GmbH; Westfalen Weser Netz GmbH; Prof. Dr. Eyke Hüllermeier, LMU München