"National 5G Energy Hub" Flagship Project
Researchers in the fields of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and communications engineering are to pool their expertise for the large-scale research project “National 5G Energy Hub.” The project of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is scheduled to start on May 1, 2018, at RWTH Aachen University.
In the first two-year phase of the large-scale project, RWTH Aachen, TU Dresden and selected industrial partners will join forces to exploit the new 5G wireless standard for the development of applications in energy engineering. Special emphasis is placed on projects in the field of building energy technology.
The upcoming fifth generation of mobile communication networks, 5G for short, will make it possible to connect 500 billion internet devices in real time. While earlier generations of mobile networks have been largely developed to facilitate communication between people, 5G will provide a solution for the communication between humans and machines as well as between industrial devices. This creates a symbiosis between measurement, control, and wireless communication technologies.
This development has a decisive impact on energy engineering and can be seen as a major step towards the successful implementation of Germany’s transition to renewable energies. In the next decade, the 5G wireless standard will allow to replace many hard-wired transmission and communication paths between a small number of central facilities with open communication platforms. Furthermore, it will make it possible to connect decentralized energy supply structures, dominated by renewable energy, to form a functioning system.
In the first project stage, software and hardware components are to be developed that enable the communication between energy applications and higher-level system components. This toolbox is to provide users with a secure communications access to energy facilities and applications. This enables public institutions and companies to offer new products and services in the energy sector right after the planned introduction of the 5G standard in 2020.
With the help of scalable cloud services, 5G technology will contribute to coordinating local energy feeds as well as thermal requirements to achieve load balancing – this supports the use of intermittent energy sources. Moreover, it becomes possible dynamically to assign generation and storage systems. Production facilities can run at higher capacities and the stability of the energy supply system can be enhanced. The new communication platform can also be used for the automated monitoring of technical systems for the purpose of preventive maintenance.
A Three-Stage Project
In the first project phase, which will run until 2020, the fundamental technologies and software components for the use of 5G in the energy sector will be developed. The second stage between 2020 and 2024 will focus on the transfer of products and services, seeking in particular to support small and medium-sized companies in achieving the digitalization of their offerings. The final phase between 2025 and 2028 will focus on further applications to support Germany’s transition to renewable energies.