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Energy Industry News

Germans go to town with 100% renewables

A look at Germany’s energy transition under real-life conditions: With an integrated, decentralized system the groundwork for a 100 percent renewable supply has been laid. One municipal utility, which secures a reliable and economically viable coverage.

A look at Germany’s energy transition under real-life conditions: With an integrated, decentralized system the groundwork for a 100 percent renewable supply has been laid. One municipal utility, which secures a reliable and economically viable coverage.

Germany’s shift from large-scale, centralized power generation to a decentralized system geared towards the large-scale integration of renewable energy has been under way for many years now. Utilities like SWW have been adapting their business models to the increasing infeed of wind and solar power since the late 1990s. This development was accelerated in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, when the government decided to phase out all nuclear plants by the end of 2022.

 

The EU’s internal energy market director as well as the Polish minister of the environment and his Japanese colleague are among the distinguished visitors to have signed the guestbook, and many more groups come almost daily to witness the future of what some have termed Germany’s energy turnaround. “I don’t really like that term,” Krasser admits. “We aren’t turning anything around at all, and we certainly aren’t turning back. We’re making a transition to a better future.”

Germany’s shift from large-scale, centralized power generation to a decentralized system geared towards the large-scale integration of renewable energy has been under way for many years now. Utilities like SWW have been adapting their business models to the increasing infeed of wind and solar power since the late 1990s. This development was accelerated in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, when the government decided to phase out all nuclear plants by the end of 2022.

 

The EU’s internal energy market director as well as the Polish minister of the environment and his Japanese colleague are among the distinguished visitors to have signed the guestbook, and many more groups come almost daily to witness the future of what some have termed Germany’s energy turnaround. “I don’t really like that term,” Krasser admits. “We aren’t turning anything around at all, and we certainly aren’t turning back. We’re making a transition to a better future.”

The next steps

“In a future stage, we are considering a power-to-gas component by providing customers with CO2-free gas created through electrolysis,” says Bernd Koch. Such a component might also see the systemic integration of an electrolyzer such as the Siemens Silyzer. By adding a power-to-liquid plant, it would be possible to process up to 1,000 tonnes of CO2from a nearby glassworks into methanol annually. In parallel, infrastructure solutions for electrommobility are to be developed.

 

Another project for the future is the integration of the whole data network onto the new IoT-platform MindSphere. SSW would be the first municipal utility using MindSphere.

 

Krasser’s team also has lots of ideas for Wunsiedel’s path to the future of energy. The SWW utility is part of GOFLEX, an EU project to develop new market models for absorbing renewable energy into the distribution grid. The concept of the “city as storage system” and the integration of block chain technology into local markets are further areas where Krasser hopes to have an impact: “We want to show that our path is better – and together with Siemens, we will prove it.”

Midrand, South Africa: The one-of-a-kind energy system

The energy landscape is changing fundamentally. The ongoing concerns about climate change, the new possibilities with digital solutions and the economic efficiency of renewables are shaping the energy transition.

The energy landscape is changing fundamentally. The ongoing concerns about climate change, the new possibilities with digital solutions and the economic efficiency of renewables are shaping the energy transition.

The involved players like municipalities, local communities or metropolitan cities are adapting their strategies, but also new partners such as private businesses rethink their approaches. Globally operating companies are developing initiatives which focus on reducing the energy consumption, driving down energy costs and integrating wind & solar power in the overall mix. Best example: Siemens.

 

The company has its goal on turning its operations carbon neutral by 2030, also to set a clear signal even before the adoption of the Paris Agreement.

 

One key measure to achieve this ambitious goal is to invest in Distributed Energy Systems (DES) and to implement these at their own facilities and office complexes all around the world. The concept of a DES encompassing and managing a diverse array of power generation, storage, energy monitoring, and control solutions in a single semi-independent energy system is a promising solution for finding answers to new challenges companies are confronted with all over the world.

Setting an example in Johannesburg

At the Siemens’ headquarters in Midrand, Johannesburg, the DES combines these climate protection goals, which is also a great example for how to realize new energy systems for the whole continent. This one-of-a-kind solution consists of 1 MW PV-solar plant on the campus’ buildings as well as parking area and is integrated with the Diesel Generator and a 140 KWh SieStorage energy storage system via the Siemens MicroGrid Controller. Consequently, the facility is not just able to charge its eCar fleet but to also manage energy production and consumption.


Sebastian Granow, head of the location management unit in South Africa, points out the benefits of the solution: “Compared to previous years, the DES here in Midrand has reduced the energy demand from the national grid by approximately 40% and more savings are expected from a further optimization of the plant.” The young German has been accompanying real estate projects at Siemens for more than 13 years, working at several locations and facilities all around the world. Since March 2016, he has been responsible for the Siemens Real Estate portfolio in Sub-Saharan Africa and in this function is also leading the Midrand DES project. Granow is proud of the successes his team has already achieved in Johannesburg, but is nevertheless looking forward to tackle the next milestones in this project: “We had a great start! Now we will further optimize the overall energy consumption of this facility and fully unlock the potential of our digital ecosystem.”

 

The DES solution in Midrand is embedded within Siemens Mindsphere to monitor, react and easily adjust to different conditions but also stabilize the campus grid in case of an outage. In general, the system generates a powerful data reporting and forecasts the energy consumption which allows for the optimized use of the whole DES solution. The next step will be to connect the DES system with the Siemens Desigo CC Building Management System and the Siemens Smart Metering network within the buildings via the cloud based asset management and energy monitoring system, MONET, to further optimize energy consumption and building operations. 

 

Granow and his team are certainly looking forward to realize this step: “There is still a lot to do and optimize, but the multinational team from South Africa, Germany and Portugal already did a terrific job in the past and I am confident that they will continue to do so in the future. My personal goal is to further optimize our own operations here in Johannesburg to make a difference and we are aware that our pilot project is also interesting for other businesses here in Africa as well as for companies all over the world.”

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