Planning energy systems

With more and more complex energy systems, the degree of automation will increase. The coupling of sectors, such as power, heat and transport can improve efficiency and flexibility but requires an integrated approach to energy systems planning.


Energy systems that include a large amount of renewable energy are very complex. The number of units to control is large and their structure is diverse, both due to decentralised power generation and flexible consumers. In addition, a close coupling of all energy sectors such as power, heat and transport is mandatory to ensure the economic competitiveness of such a system. Hence, they need to be developed, planned and operated together.

Managing this inevitable complexity requires a high degree of automation and (semi-)autonomous decision-making to ensure the technical safety and economic feasibility of such systems during their operation and the planning of their composite structure. However, a higher degree of automation makes the system more vulnerable to cyberattacks. To improve the resilience of critical energy supply infrastructures, these risks have to be considered early on when designing the system structure and its control strategy.


In this research field, TU Darmstadt focusses on:

• Developing methods and tools to optimise planning processes and the operational phase of complex interlinked energy systems,,

• Realising and testing different innovative energy systems as prototypes,

• Analysing and developing governance concepts to effectively transfer technical developments into society.

The main goal of these system-level activities is to increase flexibility in counteracting fluctuations of renewable energies and to ensure operations resilient against both accidental and deliberate distortions.

Researchers and scientists of TU Darmstadt in engineering, natural and social sciences collaborate closely on this area of research.

Selected Projects

The research project AlgoRes examines algorithms used in controlling large power grids and analyses their susceptibility to events of high impact and low probability such as natural disasters or cyberattacks.

Participating researcher:

Prof. Dr. Florian Steinke

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A model factory was built at Technical University Darmstadt together with 37 industrial partners under the leadership of the Institute of Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools. Various interdisciplinary approaches to reduce energy consumption and increase load flexibility are investigated and implemented in the research building. Since the beginning of the project in 2013, several innovative technologies for machine tools, cleaning machines, infrastructure and buildings have been established at the factory demonstrator.

The research results are used for teaching, training and technology transfer. The “ETA Learning Factory” provides practical training for the energy managers of the future within the framework of lectures and workshops on “Energy efficiency in production”.

The “ETA-Plus” network was established to support regional companies regarding energy efficiency and energy audits.

With the official opening of the factory on 02.03.2016, the research results increasingly found their way into teaching as well as further education and technology transfer from research into practice.

One highlight is the creation of three spin-offs:

ADAPTIVE Balancing Power GmbH: Development of adaptive flywheel storage systems.

ETA-Solutions GmbH: Holistic energy efficiency planning.

Etalytics GmbH i.G.: Intelligent energy management.

Participating researchers:

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Matthias Weigold

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jens Schneider

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Intelligent systems thinking is used to develop an innovative multimodal energy concept for the future of campus Lichtwiese of TU Darmstadt. New ideas and concepts are deployed and tested in real life in collaboration with the the Executive Board of Technical University of Darmstadt, yielding a living lab of future energy.

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The efficient integration of renewable energy sources in the supply of buildings with heat and electricity is an important component of the national energy concept for an environmentally friendly, reliable and affordable energy supply.

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The objective is to understand and explain the spatial and temporal interdependency of infrastructure systems and their failures. Researchers and scientists from the humanities, social and engineering sciences intend to use these insights to improve organisational processes that protect against failures and prepare for related critical situations.

Participating researcher:

Prof. Dr. Michèle Knodt

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The Kopernikus project Ariadne is a follow-up project of ENavi and investigates which political instruments are best suited to reach the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The project examines meaningful strategies for transforming the energy systems we currently use and the acceptance of these strategies by the public. It will provide insights to better understand the effects of specific political measures and policy paths and to get an overview of the overall system involving all actors from politics, energy transition and society.

Participating researcher:

Prof. Dr. Michèle Knodt

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SynErgie – Synchronised and energy-adaptive production technology for flexible alignment of industrial processes to a fluctuating energy supply.

Due to the ever-increasing proportion of electricity producers with fluctuating feed-ins into the grid, an efficient balance between energy supply and demand is required. For energy-intensive industrial processes to be optimally adapted to the future energy system based on a higher proportion of fluctuating power generation, they must, therefore, be designed according to different principles than have been applied so far. In addition, energy-flexible cross-sectional technologies as well as information and communication technology in manufacturing companies are needed to make industrial production energy-efficient, energy-flexible and resource-efficient and to enable trade in energy flexibility potentials.SynErgie is an interdisciplinary consortium with broad participation of the energy-intensive industry. Under the leadership of TU Darmstadt, more than 80 cooperation partners from science, industry and civil society worked together in the first funding phase to adapt industrial processes to the future energy system. The project is currently in the second funding phase. As planned, the project management was transferred to the University of Stuttgart.

During the first funding phase, three videos were produced (German only) highlighting the project’s focal points and addressing the interested public:

• Kopernikus projects SynErgie

• Making the industry more energy flexible – this is the research field of the Kopernikus project SynErgie

• Making the industry more energy flexible

Kopernikus-Projekte Synergie

Energieflexibilisierung der Industrie – daran forscht das Kopernikus-Projekt SynErgie

Energieflexibilisierung der Industrie

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PlexPlain – Explanatory AI for complex linear programs using intelligent energy systems as an example.

Participating researcher:

Prof. Dr. Florian Steinke

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This interregional SFB with major contributions from Darmstadt develops novel methods for simulating and optimising gas networks.

Participating researchesr:

Prof. Dr. Stefan Ulbrich

Prof. Dr. Marc Pfetsch

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The project aims at developing an innovative concept for the energetic modernisation of a mid-20th century residential district. The generation, storage and interlinking of renewable energies are a central and integral aspect of this approach.

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