Gudrun talks with the Scotish engineer Claire Harvey. After already having finished a Master's degree in Product design engineering at the University of Glasgow for the last two years Claire has been a student of the Energy Technologies (ENTECH) Master program. This is an international and interdisciplinary program under the label of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) inbetween a number of European technical universities. She spent her first year in Lisbon at Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) and the second master year at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Gudrun had the role of her supervisor at KIT while she worked on her Master's thesis at the EUREF Campus in Berlin for the Startup inno2grid.
Her study courses prepared her for very diverse work in the sector of renewable energy. Her decision to work with inno2grid in Berlin was based on the fact, that it would help to pave the way towards better solutions for planning micro grids and sustainable districts. Also, she wanted to see an actual micro grid at work. The office building of Schneider Electric, where the Startup inno2grid has its rooms is an experiment delivering data of energy production and consumption while being a usual office building. We will hear more about that in the episode with Carlos Mauricio Rojas La Rotta soon.
Micro grids are small scale electrical grid systems where self-sufficient supply is achieved. Therefore, the integration of micro grid design within district planning processes should be developed efficiently. In the planning process of districts with decentralised energy systems, unique and customised design of micro grids is usually required to meet local technical, economical and environmental needs. From a technical standpoint, a detailed understanding of factors such as load use, generation potential and site constraints are needed to correctly and most efficiently design and implement the network. The presence of many different actors and stakeholders contribute to the complexity of the planning process, where varying levels of technical experience and disparate methods of working across teams is commonplace.
Large quantities of digital information are required across the whole life-cycle of a planning project, not just to do with energetic planning but also for asset management and monitoring after a micro grid has been implemented. In the design of micro grids, large amounts of data must be gathered, there are initial optimization objectives to be met, and simulating control strategies of a district which are adapted to customer requirements is a critical step. Linking these processes - being able to assemble data as well as communicate the results and interactions of different "layers" of a project to stakeholders are challenges that arise as more cross-sector projects are carried out, with the growing interest in smart grid implementation.
Claire's thesis explores tools to assist the planning process for micro grids on the district scale. Using geographical information system (GIS) software, results relating to the energetic planning of a district is linked to geo-referenced data. Layers related to energy planning are implemented - calculating useful parameters and connecting to a database where different stakeholders within a project can contribute. Resource potential, electrical/thermal demand and supply system dimensioning can be calculated, which is beneficial for clients and decision makers to visualize digital information related to a project. Within the open source program QGIS, spatial analysis and optimizations relating to the design of an energy system are performed. As the time dimension is a key part in the planning of the energy supply system of a micro grid, the data is linked to a Python simulation environment where dynamic analysis can be performed, and the results are fed back in to the QGIS project.