On the North Sea island of Pellworm, state-of-the-art technologies have been deployed that exemplify the transformation of Germany’s energy system. Today northern Germany’s first smart local energy system was officially inaugurated by Schleswig-Holstein Premier Torsten Albig, E.ON SE Board of Management member Leonhard Birnbaum, and Schleswig-Holstein Netz AG Board of Management member Matthias Boxberger. The system serves as a platform for testing and refining the local storage of renewable-source electricity and the operation of a smart grid.
E.ON and Schleswig-Holstein Netz have worked together to install a special energy-storage system and to establish data links between customers’ electricity meters and the island’s wind and solar power plants, making it possible to harness as much locally produced energy as possible. If surplus electricity is generated on windy, sunny days, it is feed into large-scale batteries and into small-scale storage devices at customers’ homes. On cloudy or windless days, the batteries supply power for the island’s residents.
The purpose of the SmartRegion Pellworm project is to address several challenges of the energy transformation at the same time. It aims to balance the intermittent output of renewables and to use more of this output locally. The technology already deployed on Pellworm could – in the future and on a larger scale – help reduce the need for transporting large quantities of bulk power across Germany and Europe and, consequently, reduce the need for network expansion. The nearly €10 million project is being conducted by a broad-based innovation alliance consisting of partners from industry and science. SmartRegion Pellworm, which received funding from several federal ministries as part of the Federal Energy Storage Initiative, is now entering its decisive operational phase.
Premier Torsten Albig praised the project’s exemplary nature: “Today the focus of attention in Schleswig-Holstein is on the island of Pellworm, where distributed generation is being combined with innovative storage technology and smart grid management. The island generates its own electricity, stores surplus output in large-scale batteries, and draws on this power when it needs it. SmartRegion Pellworm is the result of an innovative public-private partnership between companies, research institutes, and universities in the state of Schleswig-Holstein.”
Leonhard Birnbaum, whose responsibilities on the E.ON SE Board of Management include technology and innovation, emphasized that “the expansion of renewables in Germany has created a situation where on particularly windy or sunny days the supply of power exceeds demand ever more frequently and by an ever wider margin. Consequently, the power system is increasingly pushed to the limits of its capacity. That’s why E.ON is investing in the development of smart grids and large-scale energy-storage technology. We need to learn more about, and gain much more experience with, these technologies. SmartRegion Pellworm showcases promising solutions for the energy supply system of the future.”
“This project is a great opportunity to hone our innovative edge and to enhance our expertise in smart-grid and energy-storage technologies here in Schleswig-Holstein,” says Matthias Boxberger, member of the Schleswig-Holstein Netz Board of Management. “We want to balance electricity production and consumption, thereby making better use of the energy system and at the same time keeping it robust and affordable. This project is about harnessing as much locally produced energy as possible, which will reduce the need for transporting power across great distances. In this sense, Pellworm is a test platform for the entire spectrum of energy solutions for Schleswig-Holstein.”
As part of the SmartRegion Pellworm project, the island’s existing power infrastructure was supplemented by a variety of components that make it possible to better control energy flows and to achieve an optimal balance between power output and usage. The integration of large-scale batteries into the regional power grid is one of the new approaches taken by the project. Another is the design of the large-scale storage system, which combines two state-of-the-art battery technologies: lithium ion and redox flow. Other key components of the island’s innovative power system included two automated distribution substations, special converter technology, and an energy management system.