Smart Operator – intelligent grids for changing energy structures

Intelligent power grids are set to play a key role in the energy provision of the future. As part of RWE’s “Smart Operator” project, 250 test households will now have the opportunity to be part of an intelligent grid solution.

Switching over to a cleaner energy system requires more to be done than simply employing renewable energies. One of the key challenges is to compensate for fluctuations in solar and wind power production, so that all homes have reliable access to energy whenever it is needed. With the “Smart Operator” project, the RWE Deutschland Group hopes to make a key contribution to resolving this. In Rhineland-Palatinate and Bavaria, 250 households have been selected in the municipalities of Kisselbach, Wincheringen and Wertachau (part of Schwabmünchen) to be connected to an intelligent low-voltage power grid for one year.

At the centre of the test project is a control box, which is smaller than a shoe box. The “Smart Operator” is fitted to substations in the test region and acts as a link between the homes and the local grid. It monitors the status of the grid and the flow of electricity, as well as helping to ensure stability.

The test homes also stand to benefit. Intelligent devices within the homes can be switched on whenever excess energy is fed into the grid from renewable energy sources. This gives them more freedom to connect small electricity generators, such as combined heat and power generators. RWE is carrying out the project together with partners such as RWTH Aachen, PSI AG and Stiebel Eltron. Seven million euros are set to be invested by the end of 2014.