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Stable grids with a functioning electricity supply from a range of renewable sources: thanks to IREN2, this vision has become reality at Wildpoldsried, the smart energy village in Allgäu in southern Germany. Siemens is part of the top-level consortium behind the project.
The German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) is supporting the innovative spirit of German-based companies by offering innovation-friendly conditions and market-oriented R&D and innovation activities. As an innovative, future-oriented project, IREN2 (Future viable networks for integration of renewable energy Systems) has been classed as an initiative that is worthy to be funded.
In the community of Wildpoldsried, in Germany’s Allgäu region, everyone involved in the first microgrid test of its kind outside the laboratory is performing pioneering work.
As part of IREN2, Siemens and its consortium partners are investigating new types of grid structures and ways of operating them based on technical and economic criteria. The goal is to find out how energy systems involving distributed electricity generation and additional components can be technically and economically optimized. In addition, microgrids – smart, self-contained regional electricity distribution systems – are being trialed as islanded grids, as are their use and operation as “topological power plants.”
IREN2 runs from 2014 to 2017. For the term of the project, the community will be disconnected from the main power supply system. A further objective is to demonstrate that the renewable energy producers bundled in the microgrid can temporarily replace conventional power plants by providing ancillary services from the distribution grid.
“Everyone has the opportunity to play an active role in the transition to a new energy mix and even profit from it – you just need to embrace it.”
Since the 1990s, Wildpoldsried has been involved in sustainable energy systems. During this time, Wildpoldsried evolved from a simple community in the Allgäu to an internationally renowned energy village. This is thanks in part to the Siemens projects IRENE and IREN2.
None of this would have been possible without the citizens of Wildpoldsried. From the beginning, all of them have been driving this development.
Here, Mayor Arno Zengerle, energy producer Wendelin Einsiedler, and energy pioneer Günter Mögele introduce their village.
Members of the consortium:
As part of the IREN2 project, we are optimizing control of the microgrid in Wildpoldsried by testing the following:
Before the grid in Wildpoldsried goes into operation as an island grid and as a topological power plant, our experts thoroughly test all functions. This is where they describe how the solutions work.
On location in Wildpoldsried
Where exactly is the technology used in Wildpoldsried? This interactive city map shows it.
The research work involved in IREN2 shows that microgrids and topological power plants can be achieved with a calculable outlay. They have a wide range of potential applications.
Distinct steps – clearly defined and planned
Installing the necessary infrastructure
Battery storage, diesel generators, load bank, circuit breakers, converters, communication and information technology, control center: by the end of 2015, the Wildpoldsried grid was equipped with everything it needs, including commissioning and initial field tests of all components.
Virtual rehearsal of scenarios
No field testing without simulation: before the residential power supply in the test area is actually affected, all possible scenarios will be precisely simulated. This ensures that everything can proceed as planned.
Testing isolated operation
For autonomous isolated operation, the microgrid must achieve the following:
During testing of the isolated grid, the behavior of the microgrid is examined in detail: how do regulatory procedures work during autarkic, dynamic operation? How does the grid behave after a short circuit? Where are the system-related limits? These questions can be answered once the microgrid is disconnected. This test will also show if the black start is successful, or in other words the grid will be restored “from below” and will re-synchronize upon reconnection.
Operating a topological power plant
In addition to internal stability, the Wildpoldsried microgrid is expected to provide services that will ensure system stability in the higher-level grid. This means that the conventional plants do not need to run continuously – the existing green energy plants temporarily assume control. Control technology can predict, intelligently plan, and control the green plants’ performance so that diesel generators only need to be used in exceptional situations.
As a topological power plant, the Wildpoldsried microgrid will deliver the following system services:
Report on all results
Siemens reviews the project together with its consortium partners: what went well? Did more development requirements emerge, and if so, in what areas? How can the achievements from IREN2 be used in other applications? Comprehensive reports and assessments will supply the answers.
Wildpoldsried is a community with 2500 inhabitants. What makes this village unique in terms of the energy transition? What does this place offer the IREN2 consortium that others don’t.