Efficient, regenerative and innovative: future-oriented energy concepts have a consistently positive impact on climate change. They meet the needs of industry and society and are economically attractive at the same time. The central point for politics, industry and society is to combine advancing digitalization and automation with the awareness for urgently required ecological rethinking.
Precise analysis and control of energy consumption and the development of more efficient energy storage systems are needed. Rutronik offers excellent connections to leading suppliers of relevant future technologies and cross-industry expertise, including proof-of-concepts developed in-house.
The switch to renewable energies involves the decentralization of electricity generation in various places by wind power, photovoltaic or hydropower plants. However, the amount of energy generated in this way can only be planned and controlled to a certain extent. Electricity storage that is available in the long term to compensate for grid fluctuations is a decisive factor. That requires transparent, real-time digital communication between power producers, grid operators and consumers to prevent noticeable grid fluctuations.
Fields of application:
Similar to applications in the Future Mobility segment, the focus here is also shifting towards the user. Individual end-user requirements on demand, generation and feed-in of energy mean less predictability for grid operators. Their challenge is to guarantee constant, fluctuation-free availability.
Customers are becoming "prosumers" that consume and produce energy in equal measure. Any excess production is sensibly fed into the grid elsewhere. A key technology in this context is the Blockchain infrastructure enabling peer-to-peer trading, e. g. between neighbors. Surplus energy is passed on to the next predefined location. Using Blockchain technologies and other digital processes, this becomes a fully automated business model.
Energy generation and consumption must be rethought to meet future requirements efficiently and sustainably. For this, developers, manufacturers, grid operators, etc. need a partner like Rutronik.
Wind and solar energy currently represent the central providers of renewable energies. The greatest challenge is to make electricity generation with renewable energies predictable and reliable - despite environmental influences. Approaches leading to precise predictions using state-of-the-art mathematics-based methods are part of the solution.
Predictive maintenance raises the efficiency of existing power plants and minimizes the risk of failure. It is based on real-time evaluation and processing, machine data and forecasting. Rutronik’s experts dispose of specific know-how of sensor technology, I/O link interfaces and analysis units especially suited to robust environments. They can recommend best-fitting configurations tailored to the individual application.
In the photovoltaic sector, for example, optimized solar cells allow generating more electricity than before. That becomes possible through the laser-fired contact (LFC) process. Highly reflective mirrors are inserted into PV cells as a thin intermediate layer. As a result, photons that were previously not absorbed in conventional PV cells are reflected into the cell. As they pass through the semiconductor several times, more electricity can be generated.
Moving towards a smart grid improves the utilization of existing networks. The expansion of lines and transformers is time-consuming and cost-intensive. Especially in the low- and medium-voltage grid, adjustments are necessary. This is due to the direct feed-in by smaller, decentralized generation plants into the lower voltage levels. In combination with the increasing share of renewable energies, this causes significant fluctuations for energy fed into the grid. Smart grid technologies allow faster and more efficient grid control. The most important application related to the smart grid is the smart meter, an intelligent measuring and analytics system – the brain of the smart grid.
Originally the IEC-61850 norm was created to protect and control technology in medium- and high-voltage electrical switchgear. Even more, it comes to use for decentralized power generation in distribution grids forming the normative basis for data models and communication protocols.
For all power-related components in the context of a smart grid, system-stabilizing electro technical properties are important. The reaction to voltage and frequency changes are the most relevant ones. As these are defined in national and international guidelines, the correct selection is essential when implementing applications. In an exchange with Rutronik's SMART, WIRELESS and POWER experts, all eventualities can be discussed to make the right choice.
For grid operators, smart meters represent important building blocks for the energy systems of the future. They generate a detailed analysis of relevant parameters by computer-aided measurement, determination and control of energy consumption and supply. Smart Meter log e. g. voltage failures for providing the grid operators with important information. As a result, they can coordinate generation, grid load and consumption almost completely automated and in real-time.
An intelligent metering system consists of a metering device and a communication unit, the smart meter gateway. The gateway features an integrated security module. The metering data is received, stored and forwarded in encrypted form to relevant parties such as grid operators or energy suppliers. The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) has developed the concrete requirements for the secure use of smart metering systems in its technical guideline BSI TR-03109. The installation of intelligent metering systems with smart meter gateways has already been mandatory since February 2020 and should be finished by 2023.
The global distributor offers a range of bundled hardware, software and services, bringing together complete solutions. Whether for grid operators, metering service providers or the manufacturers of a smart meter gateway: an optimal selection of sensors, wireless components, microcontrollers, power management, safety solutions and crucial components for machine learning at the edge is the first step towards an efficient system.
In addition to the systems for controlling the electricity grids, electricity storage systems represent the bridging technology of the future energy supply. Currently available are short-term storage, e. g. batteries, compressed air storage or pumped storage power plants, and long-term storage, such as hydrogen/methane, large storage hydropower plants. The former can repeatedly absorb and release energy in one day, while the latter can store electrical energy for days or weeks.
New storage methods, such as metal hydride storage units for hydrogen need adapted management systems will also be necessary. Differences in pressure, temperatures, power output, etc. require adapted components to avoid unnecessary loss of energy or damage to the storage units.
Further challenges arise when applications from the areas of electricity, heat and mobility based on renewable energies are brought into a direct relationship through sector coupling. The generic term is "power-to-X": surplus electricity ("power") that accumulates at certain intervals is fed to other forms of energy or utilization purposes ("X").
The different aggregate states, high-temperature fluctuations and various target applications are only examples of the high demands that an innovative storage system requires. Rutronik can identify the necessary components here, such as in the field of super caps (EDLC), or also make a significant contribution to reducing the time-to-market through its patents and proof-of-concepts, e. g. the hybrid energy storage system (HESS).
Statistically, the actual use of a vehicle is only one hour per day. It ties up capacity for the remaining 23 hours. These existing energy reserves can be used more efficiently and sustainably as part of the innovative vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and vehicle-to-home (V2H) solutions. In addition, they help stabilize the grid at peak times and reduce electricity costs.
Private e-vehicles can be used as flexible storage units if more electricity is produced than the grid can absorb. The prerequisite for this is the implementation of a comprehensive smart grid. The more electric cars are integrated into the vehicle-to-grid swarm, the higher the storage capacity and the better renewable energies can be utilized. In the context of V2H, vehicles are used alternatively as intermediate storage for self-generated solar power, which is then successively fed into the smart home.
Battery management systems must not only ensure efficient charging and storage processes. They also serve to fulfill safety aspects. Weak points are detected and reported at an early stage before a complete shutdown becomes necessary.
The demands on the installed components are particularly high. Energy flows from different sources into a battery and away into different channels, which sometimes have specific requirements. The interdisciplinary teams of the POWER Unit and the Automotive Business Unit offer extensive expertise on issues ranging from the smallest components to higher-level systems and solutions.
Energy harvesting eliminates the need for cables to supply power or to replace or recharge batteries in mobile devices. Light/solar energy, rotational/motion energy, vibration, temperature differences and electromagnetic energy from the environment generate electrical energy to power small electronic systems.
Power management must adopt the electrical energy obtained to the requirements of the respective application device or voltage storage device. That often involves a conversion of the voltage level or the rectification and filtering of pulse currents. To gain as much energy as possible, the adaptation of the internal resistance of the converter and the power management or load is crucial. The measures that need to be integrated, whether passive or using active techniques such as maximum power point tracking (MPPT) can be defined together with Rutronik's POWER unit. In particular, the power management unit's power consumption and start-up voltage require the attention of developers. The more efficiently the Power Management Unit works, the more the design can be optimized in terms of volume and costs.
One problem with energy harvesting, similar to the power grid, is that the ambient energy is variable and not constantly accessible. Therefore, energy storage is utilized to permanently absorb the available energy. If more energy is needed, this excess energy is used. That ensures the functionality of the application.