Cooperative information and risk management
What could a future power grid look like? What would it have to achieve? What role is played by producers and consumers?
At present the electricity grid is undergoing a paradigm shift. Both the grid structure as well as the control of this complex system will change radically. The electricity grid is currently a centralised system characterised by a few large power stations and a large-scale distribution of electricity to the end customers. The load flow is correspondingly pre-determined, and the roles of producers and consumers are clearly defined.
Renewable energies are now seriously challenging this conventional energy supply system. PV, wind turbines and biogas plants produce electricity and heat decentrally. Consumers can therefore temporarily become producers. The conversion of the energy supply and production system is creating new uncertainties and risks – mainly because the electricity production and consumption are becoming increasingly difficult to plan, and unpredictable grid fluctuations are becoming more likely. In addition, there is an escalating conflict of interests between the economic efficiency, environmental quality, public acceptance and operational manageability of the complex socio-technical system.
Technical and sociological issues in one project
The aim of the KoRiSim project (Cooperative Information and Risk Management in Future-proof Networks – a simulation study) is to develop a basis for cooperative information and risk management in future electricity grids. Linking the different decision-making levels of consumers, prosumers, distribution grid operators and other entities (e.g. meter operators, virtual power plant operators) forms an important part of the analysis. This would enable an efficient, safe and reliable control of the grid.
A remarkable aspect of this project is that the research approach combines not only grid-based but also sociological aspects. For this reason, specialists from the electrical engineering and sociology fields are working in this joint project together with a large utility company.
Focus on efficiency and system stability
The project will simulate different scenarios for the future grid based on multi-agent systems. This will enable the interdisciplinary team of scientists to determine how a complex, distributed system can be controlled in such a way as to ensure efficiency and system stability, as well as achieve goals such as data protection and IT security.
The project will result in a jointly developed simulation framework based on the model of a power distribution grid. The participating technical, social and regulatory components, as well as the information and energy flows, shall be mapped out in a way that enables testing and experimenting with different system configurations, control measures and scenarios. In particular consumers, who from a sociological perspective are deemed here to be benefit-maximising individuals, are taken into account in this project as an “uncertainty” factor. Of particular interest here is how these heterogeneous (for example, environmentally conscious, convenience-oriented) actors can be encouraged to increase their willingness to cooperate and participate so that they contribute to reducing risks and safeguarding “grid stability” as a public asset.
Joint project and approach
An interdisciplinary team is carrying out the project: participants are the Institute of Energy Systems, Energy Efficiency and Energy Economics (IE3), the Department of Technology Studies at TU Dortmund University (TSoz) and Dortmund Netz GmbH (DEW21) as an associated industrial partner.
The review of the state of science and technology has already been completed (as of May 2016): for example, TSoz has compiled scenarios for the future grid and IE3 has identified requirements for sustainable distribution grids. Dortmund Netz GmbH's role here is to provide technical project support, especially in regard to conducting interviews, providing data, developing and discussing the necessary scenarios and grid requirements, and providing a critical analysis of the results.
Based on this, the project team is developing a joint simulation framework that will enable them to carry out simulation experiments with different scenarios. They also plan to calibrate the model using real-world data.
The final phase is concerned with processing and transferring the results. The project results will be presented at conferences and workshops as well as to public and industrial interest groups. A workshop shall be organised towards the end of the project with the aim of providing impetus for (energy) policies in Germany. The project result's practical implementation is ensured by the participation of the associated industrial project partner, which can use the results as a basis for forward-looking grid planning and the development of new products based on improved knowledge of consumer behaviour.
Tasks and networking of the project partners
The project milestones
- The first work package – the aforementioned review – was completed in May 2016. Future requirements for the distribution grids have also been defined. The initial preliminary decisions for developing a simulation framework have also been made. A more detailed overview of the current research results can be found in the poster presentation for the KoRiSim project that was provided at the status conference in September 2016.
- The simulation framework shall be completed by the end of the second year of the project so that the experiments can then begin. The construction of a research laboratory is also required, making it possible to simulate a grid control centre with volunteers conducting experiments rather than relying solely on simulations.
05/2015 – 04/2018
Technische Universität Dortmund – Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät – Fachgebiet Techniksoziologie