The technology is ready, only the regulatory framework needs to be improved in order to successfully complete the energy transition. This became clear in mid-May at EM-Power Europe and the EM-Power Europe Conference. We give you a brief overview of the major topics and trends at EM-Power Europe 2022.
The number of visitors waiting for the gates of The smarter E Europe to open on May 11 was great. To avoid bottlenecks, excellent management was needed. The challenge was reminiscent of that facing conventional power grids: With the expansion of renewable energies, temporary or regional bottlenecks in the power lines may occur more and more often, so that not all of the renewable power can be transmitted. Then, for example, wind power plants have to be shut down. Avoiding these grid congestions is one of the key challenges facing the energy transition.
From May 11–13, the international exhibition for energy management and integrated energy solutions EM-Power Europe 2022 presented solutions for the power grid of the future – with resounding success. The exhibition took place as part of The smarter E Europe, with 1,356 exhibitors from 46 countries showcasing their products and innovations. More than 65,000 visitors from 149 countries came to Munich to learn what’s new – that is 33 percent more than at the last regular event before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019.
Innovation driver and showcase for the future power grid
Renewable energies are on the rise. In Germany alone, the share of renewable power in the gross energy consumption is set to double and reach at least 80 percent by 2030. At the same time, the electrification of the transport and heating sectors is causing a significant average 1.8 percent annual increase in electricity demand across Europe, according to Bruce Douglas, Director of Business Development & Communications of Eurelectric, the European association, at the EM-Power Europe Conference. The estimated number of e-cars on European roads by 2035 will be around 130 million, with 65 million charging stations.
How can the challenges caused by the rising volume of volatile renewable energies in the power grid of the future be overcome while the demand for electricity is rising? This was the key question being discussed at EM-Power Europe and the EM-Power Europe Conference. Conventional, analog grid technology alone will not be able to manage the transition – researchers, experts and industry leaders all agree on this. The presentations and discussions at the new event, the EM-Power Europe Conference, left no doubt: The solution lies in digitalizing the power grid. The two-day conference created a link between transmission systems, distribution grids and the level of prosumers, as grid operators, utility companies, research institutes and equipment manufacturers discussed specific solutions.
Right down the hall, at the EM-Power Europe exhibition, the smart technologies needed in order to digitalize our energy systems and further expand decentralized renewable energies were being showcased. According to Michael Villa, Executive Director of Smart Energy Europe, the main obstacles are regulatory ones: “As one of the events of The smarter E Europe, EM-Power Europe provides the unique opportunity to bring together the innovators of the energy sector. We are excited about the great number of innovations being presented here and about the important role they play in driving the clean energy transition. Policy makers should embrace this enthusiasm and create the legal framework needed for these solutions to thrive.”
Tomorrow’s lead technology
Energy communities are among the trends which could help take the burden off the grids. They distribute the electricity generated in a decentralized network, which means the power is consumed locally. Virtual power plants, which were also presented at EM-Power Europe 2022, can support this concept by coupling producers and consumers, enabling direct peer-to-peer trade between the members of an energy community. In addition, virtual power plants are able to make the flexibilities of decentralized, renewable energy systems available, cushioning any imbalance between production and consumption. Visitors to the Munich event were also able to learn all about the latest developments in the areas of energy monitoring and management, key solutions in connection with the e-mobility boom. Bottlenecks in the distribution grids can be prevented if the charging process is managed by software which records the energy data and controls the energy flow. This could, for example, help maximize the share of self-consumption, reduce costs and optimize the use of storage capacities. At EM-Power Europe 2022, there was also a large number of start-up companies presenting their products.
All solutions rely on extensive data, ideally real-time data. This is where artificial intelligence increasingly comes in by automatically recording large amounts of power grid data and analyzing it. Digital solutions can also help to monitor power grids more effectively and to manage predictive maintenance with remote maintenance and trouble shooting solutions. This can help make better use of the existing transmission capacity and prevent damage and, thus, power cuts.
EM-Power Europe provided a stage for all of these technologies in Munich. In the future, they will help switch from the current inflexible, centralized power grid based on conventional energy generation to a dynamic, decentralized renewable energy grid. “From solutions for smart energy management to virtual power plants and platforms for electricity trading: EM-Power Europe impressed with the quality and number of innovations presented. This is encouraging! A real-time energy industry is within our grasp. What we need now is to eliminate regulatory hurdles across the industry in order to deploy these technologies as quickly as possible. The new energy industry can make a huge contribution to energy independence,” as Robert Busch, CEO of the German Association of Energy Market Innovators (bne) summarized.
The next EM-Power Europe will take place from June 14–16, 2023, as part of the innovation hub The smarter E Europe at Messe München.