Helmholtz-Program: Energy System Design (ESD)

Helmholtz-Program: Energy System Design (ESD)

Program Overview

The national and world-wide energy transition aims at establishing a globally sustainable energy system. The related transformation process will be based on a variety of novel technologies, which have to be integrated in the overall system design and fundamentally increase system complexity. The new Energy System Design (ESD) Program tackles this system complexity challenge and provides respective solutions to support the transformation towards a globally sustainable energy system. Furthermore, ESD researchers gained knowledge of system technologies as well as developed technological solutions for the integration of renewable energy sources into the energy system. Furthermore they have been conducting interdisciplinary energy systems analysis across the borders of individual technologies and centers.

While the novel technologies are addressed in the Materials und Technologies for the Energy Transition (MTET) Program, within the scope of the ESD Program, the energy system transformation is classified as a complex sociotechnical process that comprises not only a variety of novel technologies, but also a multitude of actors and societal groups. The corresponding R&D challenges addressed by the ESD Program are structured into two distinct topics:

Topic 1 “Energy System Transformation” regarding the overall system transformation, the Topic provides systemic analyses and develops sustainable transformation pathways, incorporating ethical, societal, political, economic, environmental and techno-strategic dimensions.

Topic 2 “Digitalization and System Technology” regarding the more technological perspective, the Topic develops methods and technologies to design and operate integrated energy systems, from residential solutions via smart districts up to interconnected European transmissions grids.

While the two topics clearly have distinct foci, they are by necessity connected at the same time. In particular, the topics are linked with one another through two Inter-Topic collaboration activities:

Open-X: The whole ESD Program is dedicated to an open-data, open-source, open-model approach. Models, methods, tools, and benchmarks for optimal energy systems design and operation are not only made available to the public, but first they are shared among the topics for quality assurance and for providing coherence between the scenarios of Topic 1 and the simulations of Topic 2, as well as the energy system assessment of Topic 1 and the energy system design and operation of Topic 2. In this respect, ESD follows the Helmholtz Digitization Strategy.

Bridging the granularity gap between socioeconomic models for energy system assessment and technological models for energy system design and operation is a unique feature of the new ESD Program: very often, these two different kinds of models are not on the same level of granularity and hence coherence between the models remains an open question.


February 2021: Armin Grunwald appointed to German Ethics Council

In accordance with the proposal of the Federal Government, he was appointed to the German Ethics Council by the President of the German Bundestag, Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, with effect from 14 February 2021.

Professor Grunwald is head of the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) and holds the Chair of Philosophy and Ethics of Technology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). He also heads the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag.

He will attend a Plenary Meeting of the German Ethics Council for the first time on 25 February 2021.

KIT News
lookKIT 2020/4: Technology. Impacts. Visions

Today's society is dependent on technology - and on the fact that it is constantly evolving. It is the task of science to explore technical visions and implement them, to assess the opportunities and risks of new technologies, and to investigate the impacts of innovations already used in everyday life. At KIT, scientists in numerous disciplines work on technologies and concepts that drive technical and social progress. This issue of lookKIT presents some of these projects and approaches: from peacemaking machines to climate engineering strategies to the concept of technology futures.

lookKIT 2020/4: Technology. Impacts. Visions
Energy Lab 2.0KIT
lookKIT 2020/2: Energy Lab 2.0

Superlatives should be used carefully. Still, I would like to share with you details about the unique character of the Energy Lab 2.0. Together with our partners, the German Aerospace Center and Forschungszentrum Jülich, KIT – The Research University in the Helmholtz Association has succeeded in establishing the only infrastructure of this kind in Germany. As part of projects funded by the State of Baden-Württemberg and the Federal Ministries of Education and Research and for Economic Affairs and Energy, the interaction of components for future energy systems is studied and new approaches to stabilizing energy grids are tested. The Energy Lab 2.0 combines electric, thermal, and chemical energy flows as well as new information and communication technologies.

LookKIT 2020/2 Energy Lab 2.0
Energy and Circular EconomyKIT
February 2021: Kick-off Meeting Energy Transition and Circular Economy (Innovationspool)

Researchers from the two new Helmholtz programs ESD and MTET are pooling their expertise in the new Innvoationspool project "Energy Transition and Circular Economy" and will start the next two years with the kick-off meeting on March 4, 2021. The project aims to develop methods and models for the design and operation of energy-intensive recycling processes and their associated grid and (material) value chain integration. The aim is to close material and energy cycles as comprehensively as possible and to operate industrial production on the basis of renewable electricity in a way that is beneficial to the grid and economical. This is achieved through the cross-disciplinary, cross-center and cross-program collaboration of the partners involved.

Kick-off GruppenbildStürzer, KIT
February 2021: ESD Kick-off Meeting

At their first meeting on February 09th, 2021, over 160 researchers from eight Helmholtz centres, from the four Helmholtz energy programs and also other Helmholtz research fields came together to officially start into the new Helmholtz program “Energy System Design” (ESD). The participants of the webmeeting exchanged on the Topics and Cross-Topic Activities within ESD, discussed the details of cooperation with the Helmholtz program FUSION and the Helmholtz Energy Transition Roadmap (HETR) and jointed in seven selected workshops on various energy research interests.

December 2020: Frequency Data for Stable Power Supply

In the renewable energies era, grid frequency will be an increasingly important indicator of stability of power supply. Under the direction of the Helmholtz Association, an interdisciplinary research consortium has analyzed frequency fluctuations in twelve synchronous grid areas on three continents. For data recording, scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have developed a portable, GPS-synchronized recorder based on a new measurement technology. First results have now been published in Nature Communications. (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-19732-7)

Press Release 107/2020