E.ON und RWTH Renew Partnership Agreement
Funding to continue for E.ON Energy Research Center
E.ON will continue its successful collaboration with RWTH Aachen University and has extended the existing partnership agreement by another five years. A contract to this effect was signed on June 23 by E.ON Board Member Dr. Karsten Wildberger and the Rector of RWTH Aachen University, Professor Ulrich Rüdiger.
“With this new partnership agreement, we will particularly fund research projects in the fields of energy and sustainability research, energy system analysis and optimization, smart grids, energy storage, energy efficiency, electrification, and digitalization. We are concentrating on the E.ON Energy Research Center at RWTH Aachen University (E.ON ERC), but other institutes at the university can and should also be involved,” explained Dr. Wildberger at the signing of the contract.
The E.ON ERC is the result of a public-private partnership between industry and science and has been setting standards in interdisciplinary and networked energy research since it was founded in 2006. Over the next five years, E.ON will fund joint research projects with a total of ten million euros. In addition, wit will use up to half a million euros annually to finance charitable projects. In many cases, the results of E.ON research projects are also made available to the general public.
RWTH Rector Professor Rüdiger was also very happy with the collaboration to date and is looking forward to five more successful years. “Together with EON, RWTH has successfully been making a significant contribution to Germany’s planned transition to a low-carbon, nuclear-free economy over the last 15 years. This partnership shows the impact we can have as a university as we work together with our partners. We have a strong partnership with E.ON, which will now continue to help us shape the energy transition in Germany.”
Scientific research is indispensable for allowing us to shift to a new energy system successfully. Examples from electromobility, photovoltaics, or storage technology impressively demonstrate the progress that has already been made in the past 15 years alone. In 2009, the German government set an ambitious cost target of around €300 to €500 per kilowatt-hour battery storage capacity (€/kWh) in its National Electromobility Development Plan for 2020. This value is currently below 200 €/kWh already. A good ten years ago, a range target for electric cars of 120 to 150 kilometers was still considered very ambitious. Here, too, the developers were much faster than expected, as a look at the technical data of numerous modern electric vehicles shows. This was partly due to the considerable increase in the energy density of rechargeable batteries, which more than doubled in just one decade. And in photovoltaics, the performance-related system costs today are about a quarter of the comparable value in 2006. Power electronics play a significant role in all of these developments. Ever smaller and more cost-effective components are now offering solutions that even renowned experts would hardly have believed possible a decade ago.
RWTH Aachen University and also the E.ON ERC with its now seven chairs were and are directly or indirectly involved in many of these advances. It is a good thing that the researchers there can draw on a widespread and constantly growing network of scientists from a wide range of disciplines worldwide. After all, complex challenges such as those associated with the energy transition can only be accomplished by dividing the work.
Professor Rik W. De Doncker, who has been Director of the E.ON ERC since its inception 15 years ago, is particularly grateful for the rapid expansion of the infrastructure and the worldwide recognition that the Center has achieved comparatively short time. “Without E.ON’s support, we would not have been able to build our energy research center so quickly and make it such a successful and important part of the international scientific community. This applies to both the outstanding conditions offered by the physical structures and the close collaboration with renowned scientists on all continents.”
The extent to which E.ON ERC is now visible in the field of national and international energy research can be demonstrated by numerous projects. A good example is the EU-funded research project Platone, in which E.ON Avacon is developing new strategies for regional electricity distribution systems as part of the Twistringen Energy Platform demonstration project. Platone, in turn, uses the SOGNO platform developed at E.ON ERC. This platform has been identified and recognized by the Linux Foundation Energy as a suitable candidate for setting a global standard in network automation. Another project, the Flexible Electrical Networks Research Campus, sets standards in developing innovative technologies for electricity grids.
The BMWi is providing up to 45 million euros in funding for this project, which involves all the institutes of the E.ON ERC and numerous other institutes of RWTH. Working in close cooperation with E.ON and other industrial partners, the teams’ multidisciplinary research is focused on developing and integrating direct current technology in the energy supply system. To this end, a high-performance medium-voltage direct-current research grid was recently put into operation on Campus Melaten at RWTH. The TransUrban.NRW and SmartQuart projects, which are being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology with millions of euros to function as “living labs for the energy transition”, also involve E.ON ERC institutes with E.ON as consortium leader. SmartQuart is to demonstrate decentralized sector coupling in three differently structured quarters in the cities of Essen, Bedburg, and Kaisersesch. To this end, the research teams are developing solutions for energy-efficient buildings, among other things. TransUrban.NRW strives to replace the traditional district heating supply systems in mining regions, often run at high temperatures of 100 degrees Celsius or higher, with so-called LowEx systems to improve the cities’ carbon footprint.