Technical Article

Interview: Dr. Henning Schuster, E-Bridge Consulting - Making power grids more flexible by integrating storage

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The transformation process as part of the energy transition is leading to an increasing need for flexibility in the energy system. Storage technologies are playing an increasingly central role here. Integration into distribution networks in particular is a key issue. You have worked intensively on distribution networks and their future development: What is the relevance of storage systems in the short-term processes and long-term plans of network operators? And how do you rate this?

Distribution networks in Germany are facing a huge challenge. Previously unknown renewable power generation services must be integrated into the power grid within a very short period of time (from an energy infrastructure perspective). At the same time, numerous new electricity consumers, such as electric cars and heat pumps, are being connected. My thesis is: The power grid will not be able to meet the new requirements in the coming decades, as the speed of grid expansion will be virtually unable to meet the new grid connections even under ideal conditions.

The network operator is therefore urgently in need of flexibility, and storage is paramount here. In many joint studies with network operators, we have found that storage can offer significant advantages both in short-term processes to ensure grid stability and in medium and long-term network developments - provided that they are positioned in the "right places" in the network and that it is possible to coordinate their operation.

One important area of application for battery storage systems, which is still largely unused due to procedural and regulatory hurdles, is congestion management. At the same time, concepts such as Redispatch 3.0 are already being discussed, in which network bottlenecks are to be resolved decentrally through AI-based forecasts. ‍Whatrole do you currently and in the future assign to storages in redispatch and what hurdles must be overcome so that they can fulfill their future role in redispatch?

The valuable flexibility of storage systems is still being used insufficiently, and there are two main reasons for this: The processes and systems of network operators are very different and often not yet as widely used and the regulatory framework does not allow the full use of flexibility. At E-Bridge, our mission is to overcome both barriers so that storage can reach its full potential. Ultimately, not only network operators and storage operators benefit from this, but also the energy revolution as a whole.

To this end, we develop innovative solutions together with network and storage operators that make it possible to use the flexibility of storage systems even under the given system conditions. We also make specific suggestions for designing the regulatory framework. However, we must be realistic about both challenges: Experience from the introduction of Redispatch 2.0 has shown that implementing new concepts in network management often takes longer than originally assumed.

The question often comes up as to the state of our electricity system with regard to security of supply. What challenges do you see, particularly in the area of network infrastructure, in order to ensure a high level of supply security in the future? What role do the steadily increasing share of renewable energies and the increasing decentralization of power generation play in this, on the one hand, and storage on the other?

The growing share of renewable feed-in is less important for security of supply than the simultaneous shutdown of conventional power plants. This guaranteed service is missing in Germany, but fortunately (from a German perspective) security of supply must be assessed within the framework of the European network system. There is still considerable capacity here. However, storage systems in Germany too are already making a significant contribution to the balancing capacity - and our European neighbors are also benefiting from this.

In the future, supply security concepts should be considered increasingly decentralized. Storage systems could play an important role here, for example in the area of black start and island network capability, by providing regional contributions.

In your opinion, what is the most urgent agenda item that needs to be tackled in order to accelerate the network integration of storage systems in the short term and thus secure Germany's expansion goals?

From my perspective, speeding up the network connections of storage systems is currently of crucial importance. Many network operators are concerned that storage systems, particularly in regions with high levels of renewable feed-in, could potentially exacerbate grid problems rather than solve them. Another important challenge is that the rate of change in the performance of storage systems is simply new for network operators. To meet this challenge, short-term solutions are required to enable storage systems to be set up and connected quickly and efficiently. These storage systems can gradually develop their full potential of flexibility for the market and the network - exactly where they are urgently needed.

Contact person:United as managing director of E-Bridge Consulting Dr. Henning Schuster his passion for the energy revolution with many years of experience in business consulting in order to design groundbreaking solutions and future-oriented strategies for network operators, market players, ministries and authorities. His approach is based on a comprehensive understanding of technical, economic and regulatory aspects - a foundation that he also laid through his doctorate in electrical engineering with a focus on network planning and network operation at RWTH Aachen. Together with his team at E-Bridge Consulting, I am passionate about making the energy transition efficient and successful.

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