Claudia Rathfux from Stromnetz Berlin
The digital energy revolution is in full swing. The Berlin energy grid turns into an intelligent energy grid, the ‘Smart Grid‘, with technologies already fit for the future. De-centralised and renewable power generating plants such as photo-voltaic plants, wind turbines, cogeneration units in varying sizes and bio-energy plants have long since been connected to the distribution grid. Objective to be achieved: Berlin is to become climate-neutral by 2050.
Increasing the share of renewably generated power in respect of the overall consumption is part of the energy revolution but also increasing the energy efficiency has come into focus, explains Claudia Rathfux of Stromnetz Berlin GmbH.
The large power generation plants have come to their end - the city is focussing on photo-voltaic plants, wind turbines, and bio-energy plants. What are the challenges? Smaller de-centralised renewable energy plants feed the distribution grid compared to the large power generation plants that are connected to the transmission grid. Currently, about 7000 of such plants and more than 1000 highly efficient CHP plants produce electricity for Berlin - tendency rising. On the whole, the electricity- and load flow is changing, influencing the operation and further development of the grid infrastructure. Additionally, these power generating plants are often included in new business models, such as, for example, when implementing concepts for residential housing and quarters.
The challenge for us, as operators of the distribution grid, is to enable the de-centralised power generating plants to be integrated and coordinating the players of the energy systems in Berlin, without jeopardising the safe supply and quality in town.
The digital energy revolution has started - what does that mean in respect of the future energy system in Berlin? Following the first phase of the energy revolution, where focus was placed on increasing the renewable energies, the second phase starts now where the de-centralised generation and new loads such as electro-mobility, heat pumps or electric heating are integrated successfully into the energy system. Especially in cities like Berlin, where such developments are concentrated and where the city benefits from an excess supply of renewable energies from the surrounding region, digitalisation is decisive for linking electricity, heat, and mobility successfully.
This has already been implemented at the EUREF-Campus, where partners of the WindNODE project- including ourselves - have integrated a Power-to-Heat plant into the grid. This plant specifically uses excessive electricity from renewable sources in order to heat large quantities of water via an electric heater, which can be fed to the heating grid of the EUREF-Campus, if required.
The intelligent power grid, the Smart Grid, becomes increasingly important. What is behind this? Although the term ‘Smart Grid’ is relatively new, the digitalisation of the power grid in Berlin has been implemented for quite a few years. It is envisaged to obtain real-time information on the condition and utilisation of the grid caused by an increasing use of information- and communication technology. While the automated control in the upper voltage levels has already been reached, we are extending the use of sensors and automation technology increasingly more to the low- and medium voltage level being particularly affected by the urban energy revolution. In this way the electricity- and load flows become more transparent due to de-centralised feeders or electro-mobility enabling us to react flexibly to the challenges of the urban energy revolution.
What exactly is the effect for the Berlin citizens, when electricity- and data grids are linked? Does the energy supply become more transparent, especially by using digital electric meters? We are always committed to the Berlin citizens to provide a transparent power supply. To this end, we do not only have a customer advisory committee consisting of 22 citizens, firmly integrated into our company structures, but also, as first German electricity grid operator, provide access to our grid data via an open data platform ‘Netzdaten Berlin‘ [Grid data Berlin].
By using digital electric meters - the so-called intelligent measuring system - consumption becomes more transparent for the end customers. Especially operators of tenants’ electricity projects benefit from using the new measuring technique as it can facilitate an efficient operation of around 280 micro grids in Berlin. Also, the digital measuring technique can be extended to other sections of consumption in order to make the general consumption of a flat or a house more transparent. This is also why we are involved in so-called multi-metering projects.
And finally: Could you please finish the following sentence: “Berlin is smart, because…smart is sustainable. Already today, on its way to become a climate-neutral city, Berlin can present solutions for different challenges of the energy revolution - from integrating regenerative energies from the surrounding areas via electro-mobility right up to tenants‘ electricity - for major cities all over Germany and worldwide.