Germany is redeveloping its electricity system: wind and solar power are to become its mainstay. In order nevertheless to have an always reliable supply of electricity in the wall socket, the country needs highly flexible solutions – for example, a “swarm electricity” control that couples wind power plants and mini power plants in houses with one another. That this can work has now been demonstrated for the first time by a Hamburg electricity supplier.
The “swarm centre” is located in Hamburg. It belongs to the local energy company Lichtblick, which is the largest green electricity supplier in Germany. The centre links small gas-powered thermal power plants, co-developed with the Volkswagen Group, which, for instance, are located close to consumers in multi-family houses or community facilities and there used to produce heat and electricity. Previously, the company already used the centre to adjust weather-related fluctuations in power generated from the wind and the sun.
The swarm centre will make it possible, for example, to take wind turbines from the grid in case of an excess supply of green energy. In future the four German grid operators could thus profit from the “balancing energy” gained from wind power for grid stabilisation that the Hamburg supplier plans to offer. Lichtblick has carried out the first successful tests with a wind farm in the state of Brandenburg. The centre in Hamburg was able to control both the power generation of individual wind turbines and of the entire farm thanks to specially-designed software that bundles together data on the energy market, weather and plant operation. From these data it then develops operating plans and has direct access to mini power plants and also to wind turbines. Lichtblick is offering other operators (for instance, of wind power plants) the opportunity of joining the “marketing of swarm power”.
The Federal Government supports such approaches. Beginning in 2013 it has introduced under the Renewable Energy Act a so-called “remote control bonus”. The aim is to improve the integration of wind energy in the electricity market.