The solution is digitisation: in future electricity will be „smart“. An information network will be created alongside the power grid. This will monitor exactly where power is being generated and where it is being consumed, in real-time. Supply and demand will therefore be balanced at all times.
Local green electricity plants, houses and businesses will be linked to IT platforms via the Internet or mobile telephone. All the important information on energy supply and demand will be collected on the IT platforms. These platforms make the electricity „smart“. They control the power flows in line with demand. This results in a „virtual power plant“.
IT platforms such as the Schwarmdirigent coordinate consumption with the volatile supply and ensure that the demand is adjusted to the supply and that electricity is demanded and consumed where it is produced in large amounts. In this new world, supply will determine demand and not the other way round as before.
Battery banks on site, electric cars and other storage options will ensure that the renewable energy supply is reliable. These kind of facilities can be used to store excess green electricity when there is plenty wind or sunshine. The batteries then supply stored solar power, for example at night when the sun has set.
In the new energy world, renewable energy will be generated in local power plants and consumed locally when required, fed into the grid or stored. The power grid provides the necessary exchange of power, for example between neighbours or regions. IT platforms ensure that the power is generated and consumed or stored and distributed at all times in line with demand. This is the digital energy world.
The reassuring answer is that a secure supply from 100 per cent green electricity is possible. All the necessary technologies are available. A decentralised energy system built on wind and sun can be just as reliable as one based on coal, oil, natural gas and uranium. The key lies in digitising the energy system. The IT and energy sectors are growing together with the aim of reliably matching the energy supply and demand at all times. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy states:
New energy businesses handle both IT and energy. They coordinate solar modules and wind turbines with heat pumps, thermal storage units and batteries for their private and business clients who, for their part, alternate between their roles as energy consumers and energy suppliers.
Even the corporate groups which dominated the fossil-nuclear energy era and defended it for a long time now realise where things are heading. The large French energy concern Engie (which until recently traded under the name of GDF Suez) now talks of the „miniaturisation of the energy industry“ and states: „The new era is decentralised, carbon-free and digitised.“
Many experts now doubt, however, whether there will continue to be a place for traditional energy suppliers in a system of this kind. The problem of storing electricity was long considered the Achilles’ heel of the energy transition. But now solutions have come from two directions. First, improved market control and the modification and expansion of the power grid have brought relief. Second, the costs of battery storage are falling as rapidly as did those of solar energy previously.
Batteries and electric cars could shake up both the energy market and the automotive one faster than anticipated. The combination of solar panels on the roof, the battery in the cellar and the electric car outside the door could pay off for many consumers in only a few years – even without public subsidies. This would also solve the problem of the fluctuation in solar energy generation to a large extent.
If battery prices fall quickly, the energy transition will develop even faster towards decentralisation and digitisation. The announcement by the US company Elon Musk on halving battery costs with their new Tesla battery points in this direction.