Managing Power to Help Save the Planet

Sometimes the wind stops blowing, or the sun stops shining. How can we deal with the natural fluctuations in these kinds of energy?

Gabriele Strobel Gabriele Strobel

Solar, wind and water power can supply enough energy to allow us to live comfortably on a sustainable basis.

But how can we ensure they can supply us on a consistent basis? Sometimes the wind stops blowing, or the sun stops shining. Rivers ebb and flow depending upon the weather.

It is important to find ways to deal with the natural fluctuations in these kinds of energy. One answer is SynErgie – a research project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. SynErgie addresses demand flexibility in industry, one of the world’s largest energy consumers. Factories need huge quantities of electricity and heat to produce glass, paper or aluminum.

The problem is that production from renewable energy sources fluctuates sharply, making them less reliable than their more environmentally unfriendly alternatives, such as natural gas and coal.

One solution could be to adapt industrial processes to the fluctuating energy supply. The SynErgie project is examining this in key high-consuming industries. But how flexible can the factories be in their production?

Not very. They need reliable, consistent power to meet productions schedules, and customer deadlines.  

Synchronization of demand

It would help if the power demand of households and industry could be intelligently coordinated. SynErgie is therefore developing a synchronization platform that steers and monitors energy distribution within the production system and responds to flexibility requirements within the power system in a highly dynamic manner.

The social impact of this demand-side management in industry is being researched in the energy-flexible model region of Augsburg, which was established for this purpose. The project has already generated an impressive array of innovative design approaches for a future energy system.

Software AG, as a partner in this project, has a key role to play. Close, fast IT networking among all market participants is required to allow the identified flexibility potential to be marketed and delivered. The technological basis is a so-called energy synchronization platform, consisting of a central market platform and the company platforms of the market participants.

SynErgie infographic

The market platform leverages API management and allows the project partners to easily sell added-value services such as energy price forecasts. The webMethods integration server was used to connect existing platforms, such as the control power markets, and to implement internal processes. The server also features interfaces for connecting the company platforms of individual partners.

In the next phase, 23 demonstration plants are being set up jointly by industry and research partners. Software AG will focus largely on the company platforms. Here, Cumulocity IoT will be integrated with the technologies from the first phase, to automate the identification, planning and delivery of flexibility potential.  The use of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies and other aspects will be researched, implemented and tested.

If the technical feasibility can be demonstrated in the second phase, then a third phase is planned which will focus on translating the approach into productive solutions for the German energy market.

Learn how Software AG is helping to save the planet by clicking below.