We design the power grid of the future
Sustainable Energy Management and Mobility
In the area of Sustainable Energy Management and Mobility our expertise team deals with innovative, sustainable business models and power grid structures (e.g. in the fields of electromobility and demand response for production systems and processes), as well as with the identification of risks in critical infrastructures. Interdisciplinary research of information systems and energy enables us to identify relevant insights into user behavior and acceptance and to use this knowledge to develop new digital business models in the areas of smart grids, smart factories, smart homes, smart mobility and smart markets.
Energy Policy, Energy Legislation & Market Design
In order to meet the challenges of the energy transition, electricity market design must provide targeted support for corresponding developments. Our expertise team therefore analyzes energy policy incentives and levers within the framework of market design and the underlying energy policy in order to identify interrelationships and derive targeted recommendations for action.
Energy Generation & Business Models
Our expertise in this area lies in the development of business models, taking into account volatile feed-in profiles of renewable energies (especially wind and solar). Today, operators of power plants are faced with the challenge of operating in an economically viable manner, often in the field of tension between strong regulation (e.g., EEG subsidies) and rapidly evolving new market situations (e.g., negative electricity prices). In this context, our expertise team develops, among other things, innovative solutions for the economic operation (including maintenance) of power generation plants as well as novel and digital business models that can make the operation of plants economically viable even under challenging conditions.
Energy Transmission & Distribution in Smart Grids
The energy transition poses particular challenges for the electricity grid infrastructure. The traditional path of electricity transmission from a few centralized large-scale power plants as electricity producers to consumers with standardized consumption profiles is increasingly being replaced by the dynamic interaction of many decentralized units acting as electricity producers and consumers. With the concept of the Smart Grid, the control of electricity flows can be more target-oriented (digital) in the future, and necessary flexibilities such as storages may be integrated into the grid more efficiently. In addition, sector coupling offers the possibility of using neighboring infrastructures, such as the gas network or communication networks, to transport or store any surplus electricity. In this area, we are investigating, among other things, tariff systems to control demand or the potential for load shifting via communication networks and data centers. At a superordinate level, we also investigate the extent to which the power grid can be better utilized by reorganizing electricity markets.
Since the liberalization of the electricity market in Germany, electricity trading has been continuously evolving. Currently, electricity trading takes place up to five minutes before delivery at several energy stock exchanges, which handle a steadily increasing share of the energy trading volume. With electricity feed-in becoming increasingly dynamic, this challenge must also be reflected in trading to ensure that system stability is not jeopardized. In order to address these challenges, electricity trading needs to be further developed in various areas: We cover a wide range of general questions about the design of electricity markets, the design of trading products and the investigation of specific trading strategies for flexible energy consumers.
In the household sector we are particularly looking at the dimensions electricity, heating and transport. In the electricity dimension, for example, we investigate how households can permanently reduce their electricity costs by shifting their electricity consumption with the help of smart meters and time-variable electricity tariffs. In the heat dimension, we use data-driven methods and building characteristics to forecast the heat-energy consumption of households in order to reduce uncertainties and thus lower the threshold for energy efficiency measures. In the transport dimension, we investigate smart charging approaches to control the charging of electric cars at home, e.g. according to the available electricity supply or prices. In the context of sector coupling, we are holistically exploring the intersection between the three dimensions by not only examining the potential for individual houses/apartments, but also taking an integrated view of (smart) districts. This allows us to develop concepts and business models that take into account refurbishment measures, efficient and flexible electricity and heat supply, and new mobility concepts.
The energy transition poses crucial challenges for companies as rising electricity costs in recent years have affected the competitiveness of many companies. However, only a few companies have so far taken advantage of the opportunities that the energy transition can offer them. The industrial sector can make a significant contribution to the success of the energy transition by making demand more flexible. For companies themselves, this flexibility is also economically advantageous: electricity costs (including grid fees) can be reduced considerably. With our expertise in making electricity demand more flexible, we can help shaping the future with the use of information and communication technology, taking into account the relevant technical and economic conditions. On the basis of many years of work, we can draw on an enormous experience and expert knowledge: from the analysis of existing flexibility potentials, the determination of the profitability of these potentials, the implementation of the necessary IT infrastructure and optimizations to the development of new business models.
Electric Vehicles & Smart Charging
Electromobility can make a major contribution to successfully managing the energy transition and thus also reducing CO2 emissions. The electrification of transport and in particular the associated charging of electric vehicles hold great potentials, but also bring new technical and economic challenges. On the one hand, they enable a variety of new business models, while on the other hand the problem is ensuring the economic viability of charging infrastructure in the market ramp-up phase. Our core approach in this context is profitability analysis using charging forecasts. Especially at peak times, the power grid will be under enormous strain due to many simultaneous charging processes. In this context, we develop smart charging approaches that intelligently control the charging process and help to smooth load peaks and distribute the charging power to the charging vehicles.
In order to balance the electricity supply from renewable energies with the inelastic demand for electricity in the future, a large amount of demand and generation flexibility is necessary. Electricity storage systems can be a solution component, as they can be flexibly dimensioned, can charge or discharge a lot of energy in a short time and can provide large amounts of energy over long periods of time. However, in order to achieve the necessary amount of electricity storage facilities in the grid, a significant expansion is still required, which is only possible to a limited extent due to the current profitability of storage projects. For the integrated economic optimization of storage operation, the modeling of the grid and the consideration of technical constraints are relevant, among other things. Business informatics helps here by combining the market view with the technological aspects, thus making a significant contribution to energy research.
The existing building stock in Germany currently accounts for approx. 35 % of the total energy consumption and approx. 30 % of CO2 emissions. For this reason, research in the household sector is already being conducted and various adjustments are being made. However, any technology and any progress can only be successful if residents and users are involved. It is therefore imperative to involve and activate these stakeholders in order to initiate the desired behavior and to promote the energy transition. We are therefore currently investigating the acceptance of residents with regard to new technologies and services in the household sector, in order to take the needs of residents into account when developing business models and to derive findings for other areas of research.
The Research Center FIM deals with relevant real-world problems both in publicly funded research projects and in applied research projects with partners in industry. Together with our partners, we develop unique and novel solutions based on our insights into the current state of research, our practical experience and the interdisciplinary and enthusiastic nature of our team. Selected projects are:
- InDEED (2020 – 2023): Design, implementation and evaluation of an energy industry data platform based on a blockchain for the use cases “labeling” and “asset logging” (funded by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi))
- SynErgie II (2019 – 2022): Synchronized and energy-adaptive production technology for the flexible alignment of industrial processes to a fluctuating energy supply, 2nd funding phase (funded by the Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF))
- ODH@Jülich (2020 – 2025): Project of the Open District Hub e.V. (ODH) Consortium of the Fraunhofer Institutes IEG, FIT, IESE, IOSB and UMSICHT for the development of an open, integral planning and simulation tool. It lays the foundation for an energy supply in urban districts that transcends sectoral boundaries and their (partially) automated planning and operational management process (funded by the Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)). Project’s objective: Develop and deploy novel methods and models for the integrated planning and automated operation of sector-coupled services for neighborhoods – including the open, user-centered software and database environment.
- ODH@SIZ (2019 – 2022): Open District Hub e.V. (ODH), Project at the Sortimo Innovationspark Zusmarshausen (SIZ) (funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy) Project’s objective: Intelligent networking of the mobility and the electricity sector in terms of sector coupling
- ODH@Bochum-Weitmar (2019 – 2022): Open District Hub e.V. (ODH), Project in the urban residential quarter Bochum Weitmar (funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy) Project’s objective: Development of an energy-efficient residential quarter using locally generated renewable energy and intelligent systems
- OMOS (since 2019): An open and decentralized mobility system should contribute to the development of a digital mobility infrastructure (in cooperation with regioIT, funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) and mFUND).
- Stadtquartier 2050 (2018 – 2023): Future-oriented redesign of two city districts in Stuttgart and Überlingen (funded by the Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF))
- SynErgie I (2016 – 2019): Synchronized and energy-adaptive production technology for the flexible alignment of industrial processes to a fluctuating energy supply, 1st funding phase (funded by the Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF))
- Elektra (2016 – 2017): Project for the economic evaluation of operating models of a fast charging infrastructure with a South German premium car manufacturer Project’s objective: Development of a big-data evaluation tool for power supply and fast charging infrastructure
- BigDAPESI (2016 – 2018): Big data analysis and forecast of energy consumption and renovation costs for real estate (funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy) Project’s objective: Development of a big-data concept for the analysis and forecasting of energy consumption and refurbishment costs in real estate while maintaining a high level of protection of individual user data