Diskussionsforum Stromnetze outlines chances and changes within urban areas
On June 11, Flexible Electrical Networks (FEN) Research Campus and StädteRegion Aachen jointly hosted the third DIKUSSIONSFORUM STROMNETZE in Aachen.
During his introduction, Thomas Pilgrim (temporary head of the department for farmers, environment and consumer protection and head of the environment agency of StädteRegion Aachen) emphasized the importance of electric grids, particularly in the context of renewable energies and e-mobility.
With the increase in electricity generation from renewable energies, electric grids, which are pivotal in electric energy distrubition, also need to be adjusted. The chances and changes of grid expansion and conversion and how they affect urban areas were presented and intensively discussed throughout the presentation.
Ms. Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Sandra Sieber from the Institute for Landscape Architecture of RWTH Aachen University first illustrated how the electric grid is changing. The “old“ electric grid was conceptualized in a way that energy supply was coming from power plants. Today’s electric supply, on the other hand, involves far more producers, e.g. photovoltaic systems, and more consumers such as charging poles. All this makes the electric grid more complex and medium-voltage and low-voltage grids are becoming more siginificant. Both the energy transition and grid expansion not only occur on different levels within the grid but also on different spatial levels such as the district, regional as well as the transnational level.
In urban areas, direct current grids can be a component of the grid transformation. That way, development pressure for photovoltaic systems and wind turbines on surrounding areas can be reduced while energy production in the city is intensified. Electricity generated from solar energy can be stored by means of energy storage batteries, allowing it to be used directly from charging poles. In this context, Ms. Sieber emphasized that direct current and e-mobility can foster one another.
Dipl.-Ing. Benjamin Casper from the Chair and Institute for Urban and Regional Planning of RWTH Aachen also conducts research in the field of direct current at FEN Research Campus. In his presentation, he introduced examples of inconvenient overhead lines in cities and pointed out the advantages of underground direct current cables which can be drawn on at any time, e.g. to supply charging poles along federal highways.
The concluding discussion spawned a vivid exchange on the presentation topic, including the technical and financial possibilities to implement the mentioned measures, for instance. Both speakers pointed out a variety of possibilities to establish a direct current grid. Whether it will prevail, however, is yet to be seen. From offices through production lines to data centers, there is already a number of single buildings that are supplied by direct current instead of alternating current.