Mixture of energies symbolises system integration of renewable energy; Source: BMWi/Holger Vonderlind

© BMWi/Holger Vonderlind

Today's electricity supply is based on the transportation of power from large central power stations to the consumers. In future, however, a large proportion of the electricity supply will be provided by many decentralised generation units on the basis of renewable energy.

The key question is how the energy supply can be maintained on the basis of intermittent energy sources. The energy supply system needs to be adapted to these fluctuations; the customary energy security must be maintained. Smart load management is an important aspect of the solution of the problem of intermittent energy sources. It means that electricity can be used specifically at times when there is a high level of output, e.g. when there is a lot of wind.

The distribution grids, which so far have been designed to be passive, must be developed into flexible, active grids which can cope with high shares of renewables. Also, system services to maintain grid quality will have to be delivered on a distributed basis by renewables in future. This entails a rethinking of the entire system.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is therefore providing funding for research projects which aim to optimise the energy supply system to cope with the bulk of energy deriving from renewables (cf. (in German) funding announcement for the 6th Energy Research Programme (PDF: 1.12 MB)).

In addition to the further development and redesign of the energy grids, storage systems will also play a key role in future in order to balance short-term and long-term fluctuations in energy provision and energy demand.