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Smart Computer for the Energy Transition

Bayreuth/Jülich, 31 July 2018 – The expansion of renewable energies is increasingly pushing the German electricity grid to its limits. In Northern Germany in particular, large quantities of wind power are fed in: at peak times, this is often more than can be transported via power lines to the south and west of the country, where many large consumers are located. Together with the transmission system operator TenneT TSO GmbH, experts from the Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC) have now developed a special computer system. It aims at helping to adapt the electricity grid, which has grown over decades, to the requirements of the energy transition. The grid operator uses computer simulations of the power flows in the grid for the expansion. With the new system, these flows can be accelerated more than 30 times.

WindräderPower fluctuations in wind turbines push electricity grids to their limits
Copyright: TenneT TSO GmbH

TenneT TSO GmbH, based in Bayreuth, is one of four companies in Germany responsible for operating the cross-regional power grid. Experts from the Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC) have now developed a hybrid computer system in a three-year cooperation with TenneT: the "Smart Performance Cluster" is specifically tailored to the applications used by the company and provides resources for Windows and Linux software under one interface.

"With the newly developed system, we are able to perform numerous calculations in parallel. This leaves more time to analyse the calculation results in further dimensions and to obtain new findings. Besides, some calculations have only become possible with the introduction of the new system, which is why we consider the cooperation with the JSC to be extraordinarily successful," explains Stefan Schuh, who is responsible for the cooperation on the part of TenneT.

The grid operator uses extensive simulation tools to plan the construction and dimensioning of new power lines. Due to grid bottlenecks, the output power of power plants, wind turbines and photovoltaic systems must on occasion be temporarily limited in order to stabilise grid operation. However, curtailing of renewable energies only takes place in an emergency, as a last measure, in case of permanent overload. Still, the amount of green electricity, primarily from wind power, which is lost through so-called feed-in management has increased rapidly in recent years. In the record year 2017, it corresponded to about 5 per cent of the total wind power generated.

In 2017, costs of around € 1.4 billion for grid stabilisation incurred across Germany. These are additional expenses which, according to the federal network agency, Bundesnetzagentur, can only be reduced in the long term by expanding the network[1]. For the optimal adaptation and design of new lines, TenneT strives to simulate and optimise the power flows throughout the entire network over a whole year. With the previous technology – the simulation software ran on classic servers – the massive increase in computing power required for this would not have been possible, however, which is also due to the complexity of the German energy system, which has increased enormously in the course of the energy revolution.

Experts of the JSC could now contribute their knowledge in the field of High Performance Computing (HPC) within the scope of a contract work for the TenneT TSO GmbH, developing a system that meets the requirements. Together with an IT service provider and developers of the simulation software, they adapted the TenneT applications for parallel processing by a large number of processors and tailored a parallel computer with intelligent resource management, with which the simulations and other applications can be significantly accelerated, to the requirements of the Bayreuth company.

[1] Press release of the Bundesnetzagentur of 18 June 2018 (in German)

Further information:

Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC)

Industry Relations Team of the Jülich Supercomputing Centre

Tennet TSO GmbH

Contact:

Dr. Hartmut Fischer
Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC)
Tel.: +49 2461 61-8808
E-Mail: ha.fischer@fz-juelich.de

Press contact:

Tobias Schlößer
Corporate Communications (UK-E)
Tel.: +49 2461 61-4771
E-Mail: t.schloesser@fz-juelich.de

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