The connection of the electricity grids with the gas grids is necessary in order to develop concrete technical approaches for achieving the energy system transformation. The Smart Grids research cluster therefore concentrates, among other things, on the reliable and secure exchange of information.
The Smart Grids research cluster
The formation of an overall system takes place through the networking and superposition of individual cells. Regardless of today's conditions, the system must be redesigned from the bottom up - starting with the smallest cells. Here, comprehensive, new topologies and technologies are of particular importance for the optimal networking of the cells.
The newly designed system must be optimized with regard to reliable and stable system operation. In particular, tasks and responsibilities for maintaining system stability must be defined and distributed.
The greatest obstacle to the practical implementation of such concepts is currently seen in the regulatory framework. Legal and economic aspects must therefore be taken into account. In this way, the role of power to gas as a coupling and load shifting element between electricity and gas networks can be fulfilled.
A prerequisite for the interconnection of gas and electricity networks is the reliable and secure exchange of necessary information. In this respect, information and communication technology (ICT) will become increasingly important. This applies both to the route from the electricity system to the gas system via electrolysis and back via combined heat and power generation in the form of virtual power plants.
In cellular network structures, so-called agent-based control systems ensure a high degree of automation and operational reliability. The ICT concepts are to be further developed for use in energy supply under the aspect of grid coupling. A high degree of information exchange across sector boundaries will make network control much more flexible.
Further elements of the so-called smart grids are ICT-supported intelligent measuring devices (smart meters) and a cost-efficient and comprehensive exchange of information between the coupling elements in the electricity and gas systems. The technical integration of these components into a common smart grid concept will be a further focus in cooperation with the power grid.
In the gas network, gas properties are becoming increasingly broader, for example through LNG with high energy density and, in the long term, hydrogen from power to gas plants. For safety, operational and billing reasons, special attention must be paid to this.
In the Smart Grids cluster, the topic of gas composition tracking is therefore given high priority. In addition to the use of complex measurement technologies, numerical methods with sufficient accuracy for dispatching must also be developed.
Further research needs arise from the development of methods for the active or bidirectional operation of gas networks. An intelligent gas network of the future also requires a higher capacity for the decentralised absorption of renewable gas. One approach is the active operation of the gas network, for example through bidirectionality between the pressure levels, for example through biogas recovery.
Following the successful development of smart grid concepts with power to gas and ICT technologies, these must also be demonstrated in practice. Here, too, the DVGW sees its task in the implementation of scientific support for demonstration projects of combined gas and electricity network automation - the Smart Grids. In order to fulfil the mission of the DVGW, standardisation and regulation are to be closely linked with research.
For reasons of cost and efficiency, it is necessary to connect both systems at the lowest possible voltage levels. Therefore, cellular and multimodal power supply structures are aimed at. The design of the innovative cellular approach is associated with a multitude of technical challenges.
This raises the overriding question of what technical effects the consistent implementation of the premise of balancing the supply and demand of every form of energy at the lowest possible level entails. How can the structure of the energy cells and their interfaces ultimately be designed?