The energy industry has to be restructured, away from a few large energy suppliers to many small ones. That is certain, because Germany wants to achieve climate neutrality by 2045, and that is not possible with the previous structures. That is why the Energy Future Lab of the German Energy Agency dena runs several pilot projects in which decentralized decisions and controls in the energy sector are to be digitally supported. This includes blockchain projects and CO2-Data platforms for municipalities. They should give energy producers and consumers better control options.
On the way to the 1.5 degree target, energy systems are becoming decentralized
“Everything we do is primarily aimed at limiting the maximum global temperature increase to 1.5 ° C,” said Philipp Richard, head of the Future Energy Lab at dena’s Future Energy Day this week in Berlin. “This has consequences for all energy systems worldwide. We have to rethink and not too narrowly. In the process, very centralized systems are turning more and more into decentralized structures with millions of producers in the field of renewable energies.
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Energy expert Richard points out that in the future there will be many small systems that generate electricity on a large scale – but only if the necessary resources of wind, sun and water make this possible. “This results in the striking challenge of using energy only when it is available or of converting systems and processes in all sectors of electricity, mobility, heating and industry so that they can temporarily store energy.” One thing is clear: “Without digital technologies, a system change from large to small or from a few to many millions of producers, storage facilities and consumers would not be possible.”
Time wasting data acquisition
The Future Energy Lab, which was set up in 2020, is pursuing new approaches that should pave the way for the new energy industry. The core project is the so-called CO2-Data demonstrator: municipalities record digital information on a data platform in order to determine the origin and concentration of CO2 to be able to better determine in their respective areas. Eight partner cities are involved in the project: Bottrop, Brandenburg an der Havel, Chemnitz, Dortmund, Giessen, Konstanz, Münster and Templin.
The decisive factor is the availability of data, emphasizes dena project manager Lukas Knüsel: “If you, as a municipality, have a CO2– If you want to draw up a balance sheet, you have to speak to up to 15 different actors. “There is not a single sector in which it is easy for the municipalities to obtain the data. A further complication is the fact that the data are collected at different time intervals. Some data are Free of charge, some not, some data may not be made available. Municipal climate protection managers spend two thirds of their time collecting data. Accordingly, it makes sense to automate data collection, establish interfaces and standards. New digital business models could be based on improved data.
“Municipal digitization can also strengthen acceptance among the population for many digitization and climate protection measures,” explained dena project manager Mathias Böswetter. To this end, dena has published guidelines for municipalities, which are aimed at stakeholders from municipalities as well as from the digital energy industry.
Critical mark of 300,000 inhabitants
“The individual municipality will not be able to meet this challenge,” said Tobias Bannach from the Deloitte management consultancy, which is accompanying the project. Smaller municipalities in particular are overwhelmed with developing the use cases – the critical mark is 300,000 inhabitants. Big cities are better equipped financially, but they are also under a higher level of suffering: With mobility, the question arises more quickly of how it can be better controlled. Large cities also had efficient municipal companies.
“The most important point at the beginning is: With what quality do we collect the data? How do we get our municipal data?”, Emphasized Michael Pfefferle from the IT industry association Bitkom. He also points out that “a certain two-class society in the cities” is currently emerging: “As long as politics runs from lighthouse to lighthouse project, as long as we prefer to promote large metropolises and the calls for funding are designed in such a way that only large municipalities apply at all because they have the staff and know-how, not much will change as long as that. ” What is important is what happens after the flagship projects are over: “How will we get this information to the municipalities? Who are the key stakeholders there?” Countries such as Hesse and Baden-Württemberg are already trying to bring stakeholders together; for this purpose, offices would have to be set up and conferences held.