Why does the grid infrastructure play such an important role in the Energiewende?
In the past, if more electricity was required, another shovel of coal was simply added at the power plant. This will not be possible in the future. The generation of electricity from the wind and sun is dependent on the weather. The grid of the future will therefore need, on the one hand, a storage system, and, on the other hand, the ability to flexibly adapt consumption to the amount of electricity being generated.
What technical requirements will be necessary for this?
Firstly, the consumption of individual units must be large enough to make flexible management worthwhile. This is the case, for example, for charging stations for electric cars. A smart management system will ensure that the connected batteries are only charged when the grid has sufficient output. A similar principle is conceivable for industrial companies that could use energy management systems to flexibly manage their production plants.
Why is the phrase critical infrastructure being talked about more and more in relation to grids?
The term “grid” or “network” will have a much broader scope in the future. Flexible consumers require not only electricity but also extensive communication links. The security of the entire IT infrastructure for the energy supply system, as well as the data for individual consumers, is necessary in these networks. In addition, we need to work across sectors if we want to generate 80 % of our electricity from renewable energies in the future. One example of this is heat pumps – which link together the markets for electricity and heating. Electricity can also be transformed into gas via electrolysis and thus stored in a neighbouring grid.