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How distributed power generation works – economically and reliably

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.

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IREN2 – innovative and worthy to be funded

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.

IREN2 – Smart technology combined with science

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.

Ingenuity meets pioneering spirit

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.”

Arno Zengerle, mayor of the Wildpoldsried energy village
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The citizens of Wildpoldsried

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.

A powerful team

Members of the consortium:

Putting the future to the test

As part of the IREN2 project, we are optimizing control of the microgrid in Wildpoldsried by testing the following:

Latest technology

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.

Microgrids can be separated from the main grid if the main grid is at risk of an outage. Senior key expert Markus Reischböck explains how this works and how the island grid is resynchronized after the danger has been averted.
IREN2: Island grid and resynchronizing
Microgrids can be separated from the main grid if the main grid is at risk of an outage. Senior key expert Markus Reischböck explains how this works and how the island grid is resynchronized after the danger has been averted.
The Siemens microgrid automation solution provides efficient, stable and fully automatic operation of island grids. One of its functionalities is the black start after a blackout. Solution Manager Jeremy Wiles explains how this blackstart works.
IREN2: Black start
The Siemens microgrid automation solution provides efficient, stable and fully automatic operation of island grids. One of its functionalities is the black start after a blackout. Solution Manager Jeremy Wiles explains how this blackstart works.
Solution manager Jeremy explains how the Siemens microgrid automation solution controls and optimizes the operation of an island grid.
IREN2: Island grid
Solution manager Jeremy explains how the Siemens microgrid automation solution controls and optimizes the operation of an island grid.
A topological power plant provides the main grid with ancillary services. Senior Key Expert Markus Reischböck explains how the concept works.
IREN2: Topological power plant
A topological power plant provides the main grid with ancillary services. Senior Key Expert Markus Reischböck explains how the concept works.

On location in Wildpoldsried

The interctive technology city map

Where exactly is the technology used in Wildpoldsried? This interactive city map shows it.

IREN2
  • Backup Generator

    Backup Generator

    Traditionally, power grids are supplied almost exclusively by rotating generators. Discontinuation of large power plants in the future decreases rotating mass in the grid - leading to less system stability. The back-up generator operation is able to be scheduled; thus fluctuating generation of wind and solar can be compensated. Additionally, the quality of service in energy supply for the power customers throughout IREN2 tests is ensured.

    Power: 500 kVA
  • Load bank

    Load bank

    A load bank is a controllable electric consumer consisting of ohmic resistances to emulate a variable load. This component is used to cause electric stress to the grid during test operation. The response of single system components, such as the stationary battery storage, but also of the whole system can be analyzed and optimized by the use of such a load bank.

    Power: 0 to 150 kW, adjustable
  • Weather station

    Weather station

    The weather station is located at Wildpoldsried sports ground. It helps to better estimate the expected power output of the wind and photovoltaic systems.
  • Diesel Generator

    Diesel Generator

    In an island grid the electricity supply always has to be ensured – also in times of low regenerative power generation. Regenerative electricity generation from sustainable energy sources are – as well as wind and sun – an important contribution for the "Energiewende". Thus a diesel generator running on vegetable oil will be used additionally. The use of this generator can be scheduled because its availability is weather independent.

    Rated Power: 90 kVA
  • Intelligent distribution grid station Salzstrasse

    Intelligent distribution grid station Salzstrasse

    In the transformer station the 20.000 volts medium voltage is transformed to low voltage, supplying households with power. Large renewable generation units are connected here and the power is fed back to the grid via the transformer. In the station IRENE, major components such as the battery storage and the inverter coupling are connected with the power grid. Thus, for experimental purpuses in the research project IREN2, the desired switching status can be created at any time.
  • Office container

    Office container

    In order to run the project IREN2 smoothly, not only technical but also organizational challenges have to be mastered. All necessary office work will be managed in a specially equipped container.
  • Battery storage

    Battery storage

    In periods of high regenerative electricity generation the stationary battery storage, with the latest lithium-ion technology, can buffer electric energy and supply it back into the grid later. This performance is essential, especially in non-interconnected island grids in order to establish the equilibrium between consumption and generation of electric power and hence to ensure a stable operation of the grid at any time.

    Rated Power: 240 kVA (300 kVA peak power)
    Energy: 160 kWh
  • Microgrid Controller

    Microgrid Controller

    The Microgrid Controller is the brain of the microgrid, either if it works in islanded or grid-connected mode. It covers asset monitoring, blackout detection, black start, and automated grid modes for islanding and resynchronization, as well as reserve and state-ofcharge management with automatic start of backup generators. Generation offsetting and balancing (secondary control) in island mode, and, grid connected, it provides tie-line control for active and reactive power.
  • Inverter coupling

    Inverter coupling

    This inverter coupling unit allows the transmission of electric power into the IREN2 research grid and vice versa. This power electronics can be used like a photovoltaic plant or an energy storage system or like a controllable electric consumer. The inverter coupling device allows the practical simulation of any scenario that involves high dynamic demands. Typical situations which are important for the characteristic testing of the electric grid behaviour can by created at any time and independent of any external influence such as weather conditions.

    Rated Power: 500 kVA
  • Transformer station IRENE

    Transformer station IRENE

    In the transformer station the 20.000 volts medium voltage is transformed to low voltage, supplying households with power. Large renewable generation units are connected here and the power is fed back to the grid via the transformer. In the station IRENE, major components such as the battery storage and the inverter coupling are connected with the power grid. Thus, for experimental purpuses in the research project IREN2, the desired switching status can be created at any time.
  • Control technolgy

    Control technolgy

    The control technology for IREN2 is located in the so Energy Hotel "Kultiviert" in Wildpoldsried. The controller operates all systems using intelligent technologies and algorithms. This guarantees the best possible interaction and monitoring of all the elements applied – for maximum availability of the overall system.
  • Adjustable local power transformer

    Adjustable local power transformer

    Local substation transformers formerly transported power from higher voltage levels to households only. This "one-way road" is burdened with reverse flows today, as direction changes in times of high renewable generation, too. On load tap changer transformers (OLTC) are capable, by applying their transformation ratio, to cope with these different operational situations, and keep the voltage within the permitted limits.

    Taps at low voltage side by power electronics, 3 steps
    Power: 400 kVA
  • Municipal photovoltaic systems

    Municipal photovoltaic systems

    Wildpoldsried has invested approx. EUR 1.5 million in photovoltaic and – to a lesser extent – in wind power plants. On virtually every municipal building there are photovoltaic systems. The generated income is used for social projects that benefit the youth and the elderly of the community.
  • Church tower with radio relay

    Church tower with radio relay

    Radio relay systems are radio systems for transmitting information between fixed locations. In Wildpoldsried, the link is built up between steeple and local substation.
  • Photovoltaic system of an inhabitant of Wildpoldsried

    Photovoltaic system of an inhabitant of Wildpoldsried

    In a photovoltaic system solar cells convert a portion of solar radiation into electrical energy. Conventional photovoltaic systems on rooftops have an output at the low single-digit kW range, while commercial rooftop installations generate up to several MW.
  • The biogas plant of a Wildpoldsried power pioneer

    The biogas plant of a Wildpoldsried power pioneer

    Biogas plants are used to produce biogas through fermentation of biomass. Agricultural biogas plants usually are using animal excrement as manure and solid manure and energy crops as a substrate. This Wildpoldsried citizen first became involved in the generation of wind energy and then added biogas and later photovoltaics to his electricity mix.
  • The CHP of an Wildpoldsried citizen

    The CHP of an Wildpoldsried citizen

    A combined heat and power plant (CHP) is a modular system for obtaining electrical energy and heat, which is preferably operated at the site of the heat consumption. Useful heat can also be fed into a district heating network. The system uses the principle of cogeneration: both electrical power and heat are produced simultaneously.
  • Wind turbines

    Wind turbines

    The installed wind turbines in Wildpoldsried generate 16,800 MWh p.a.

IREN2 is globally relevant

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.

Three years at a glance

Distinct steps – clearly defined and planned

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Complete

Installing the necessary infrastructure

Completed

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.

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Simulate

Virtual rehearsal of scenarios

Completed

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.

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Disconnect

Testing isolated operation
For autonomous isolated operation, the microgrid must achieve the following:

  • Frequency stability and active power control: primary and secondary power control, operational planning
  • Voltage stability or reactive power compensation via primary and secondary control mechanisms
  • Provision of short-circuit power, ensure protection
  • Preparation and implementation of re-synchronization (align frequency, phase, and voltage; close switches)
  • Black start
  • Planned and unplanned disconnections from the main grid

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.

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Connect

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:

  • Meet active power specifications and schedules
  • Meet reactive power specifications and schedules
  • Provide the agreed-upon primary/secondary control active power
  • If necessary, provide the agreed-upon control reactive power or voltage control
  • Provide short-circuit power; ensure protection
  • Provide spinning reserve
  • Market interface
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Finalize

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 – home of the power pioneers

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.

 

 

4000 MWh/year Electricity consumption
15000 MWh Wind power
12000 t/year CO2 saved