Researching Optimal Energy Supply

  sOptimo project group Copyright: © LTT

At the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics, LTT for short, at RWTH Aachen, a new research project has been started to optimize energy supply systems. sOptimo+: Ganzheitliche Optimierung von Energieversogungssysteme in der Praxis or "Holistic Optimization of Energy Supply Systems in Practice" is continuing the work from the successful preceeding project sOptimo. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy granted new funding for the project. The scientists at LTT are using the funding to develop software and methods for optimizing the structure of energy supply systems. With this work they can determine the efficiency potential and possibilities for saving costs in the energy supply of industrial regions, municipal infrastructure, and residential areas. Project partners include the Gesellschaft zur Förderung angewandter Informatik e.V. Berlin, BFT Planung GmbH, Aachen, and INEOS Köln GmbH. The project partners want to work with additional associated partner companies to enable broad and simple application of the methods to optimize structures of energy systems in practice. The project is following a holistic approach, which takes the type of energy carrier and facility into consideration as well as optimizing the operation, the sizing, and the structure of the plant park.

Software Enables Maximum Efficiency

"A typical case of application is an existing industry location, on which additional plants such as communal heating and power stations, photovoltaic plants, or biogas plants are to be built due to a new need for energy by the companies located there. Already during the planning phase, our software calculates how the plants have to be sized in order to work with maximum capacity and low costs in combination with the existing energy sytems," explains Björn Bahl, who is accompanying the project as a research staff member at the RWTH ITT. With the current software planners and engineers usually compare different types of plants and select the best one. The process is primarily automated. The software already includes many building blocks of the energy supply system in a so called component library, which contains a lot of basic data about heating and power stations, boilers, refrigerating machines, and more. The software is also able to illustrate uncertainties, such as the unknown development of energy prices in the coming years. "Until now there have not been many methods, with which complex problems like the optimization of energy supply systems could be mathematically solved. It's possible today, however, with our methods and increasingly faster computers," emphasizes Matthias Lampe, head of the group Energy System Technology at the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics.

Collaboration in EnEff Research Assocation

In the current research project sOptimo+ focus is primarily placed on practical application. "We want to hear from engineers, planners, and the industry, to find out where there problems occur in the application of the current methods and what expansions are necessary," says Björn Bahl. "In order for the software to applied as broadly as possible, we need the intersection of the individual questions. We need a planning tool in the end that can calculate for as many cases of applications as possible which plants have to be built, in order to operate the entire system so that it is energy efficient and affordable," explains Matthias Lampe.

Industrial parks and plants as well as the building sector have the highest potential for saving energy. RWTH scientists are working closely together with other researchers from the projects under the funding focus EnEff-Stadt. This focus investigates urban residential spaces and how the intelligent implementation and networking of new technologies can improve energy efficiency. Together with the discoveries from sOptimo+, comprehensive know-how for industry plants and the city of the future will develop in the coming years.

Source: Press and Public Relations