Fraunhofer Center for Digital Energy Launched

29/04/2020
Individuals looking into the camera and maintaining a physical distance to each other Copyright: Meike Boeschemeyer

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the Fraunhofer Center for Digital Energy with 5.1 million euros as part of a governmental action program.

 

Due to the phase-out of coal as part of Germany’s energy transition, the Rhenish mining region is facing a significant change process. The energy sector and the energy-intensive industries, in particular, are confronted with major challenges. The end of coal-fired power generation, the coupling of different sectors, such as the electricity, heat, and mobility sectors, and the digital transformation that is part of this process, are confronting enterprises with changed framework and market conditions.

In order to master this change process and to turn it into an opportunity, the Federal Government and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia are funding the establishment of the Fraunhofer Center for Digital Energy (de).

The aim of the new center is to lay the foundations for the development of technologically reliable, hacker-proof, and economically viable digitalized energy infrastructures in the Rhenish mining area and to put them into operation. The center is being established jointly by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT, the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics FKIE, the Institute of High Voltage Equipment and Grids, Digitalization and Power Economics IAEW, and the E.ON Institute for Automation of Complex Power Systems ACS.

Pooling of Expertise to Develop Pratical Solutions

According to Professor Matthias Jarke, the Fraunhofer Center for Digital Energy combines the expertise of renowned RWTH departments in energy engineering and computer science with the Fraunhofer institutes’ in-depth knowledge of digitalization and its financial management as well as IT security. The center is based on three pillars: Research and development of new technologies and business models, the training of future experts, and testing and verification activities to ensure that research results can be successfully integrated into products and services.

Professor Stefan Decker emphasized that by integrating an independent 10,000 volt distribution network, it becomes possible to design and test IT security and digital technologies for future digitalized energy supply systems using a real-world system. This would not be possible directly within critical energy supply infrastructures. As a result, the Center allows for uniquely practice-led research, development and training.

We need forward-looking solution providers such as the Fraunhofer Center for Digital Energy: Combining top-level research, the collaboration of experts, and the direct transfer of research into practical application creates enormous benefits for the Rhenish mining area by providing it with a unique competitive edge.

NRW Minister President Armin Laschet

Initially, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the Fraunhofer Center for Digital Energy with 5.1 million euros. On April 28, Parliamentary State Secretary Thomas Rachel, Member of the German Bundestag, presented the official funding letter to professors Stefan Decker and Matthias Jarke as representatives of the new Center.

In a video message, NRW Minister President Armin Laschet emphasized the uniqueness and importance of the venture for the region: "Setting up the Fraunhofer Center for Digital Energy in Aachen will create around 100 new jobs. North Rhine-Westphalia is a pioneering state in Germany’s energy transition. The Center has great potential to effectively contribute to the goal of creating a European model region for secure and sustainable energy supply".

RWTH Rector Professor Ulrich Rüdiger expressly welcomed the establishment of the Fraunhofer Center in Aachen and stressed the importance of the Center for a successful structural change in the region and beyond.