Nov. 3, 2023 — Energy grids in Germany and Europe are facing a radical transformation. Large fossil-fuel power plants are increasingly being replaced by renewable energies. This is accompanied by increasingly complex, intelligent networking, which requires computationally intensive control as well as increased levels of cyber security. Quantum technologies offer promising potential in this context. In the German project Qugrids, which is coordinated by Forschungszentrum Jülich, energy and quantum researchers now together investigate how this future technology can be used beneficially for the planning and operation of energy networks.
Quantum computers promise to solve certain tasks much faster and more efficiently than is possible with conventional computers. Quantum encryption, also known as quantum cryptography, which is based on quantum physical effects, also offers enormous potential for reliably protecting confidential communications and digital control systems from cyber-attacks.
Due to the increase in renewable energies, the energy networks in Germany and Europe are facing a radical change. Large, fossil-fuel power plants are being replaced by an increasing number of smaller power sources, often organized on a decentralized basis and more closely coupled with each other, which requires more complex control and networking. At the same time, electricity consumption will continue to rise in the coming years due to the increased use of heat pumps and the growing number of electric cars – even more electricity will need to be distributed through the grids.
“The computational effort actually limits us here. With our existing infrastructure solutions, we have so far not been able to make energy and power grids flexible enough to support a fully renewable energy supply,” explained Qugrids coordinator Prof. Andrea Benigni from Forschungszentrum Jülich.
“Quantum computing and quantum communication can be a real game changer here,” said the expert in energy systems engineering and director at the Jülich Institute for Energy and Climate Research (IEK-10).
The project brings together energy and quantum researchers from Forschungszentrum Jülich, RWTH Aachen University, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT and University of Münster and will start on November 1, 2023. Qugrids is funded with 3 million euros (~US$3.2 million) by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The goal of Qugrids is to enable value creation at the interface of quantum technologies and energy systems engineering and to establish a connecting hub for universities, research institutions and private companies through the collaboration of leading players in the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).
The project is based on three pillars:
- Qugrids will assess the potential and shortcomings of quantum technologies for energy grids. The goal is to develop exemplary use cases and define an initial research and development roadmap.
- Furthermore, the aim will be to consolidate cross-disciplinary collaboration between stakeholders and involve industrial companies.
- Qugrids will create teaching and training materials for the education of a qualified, competitive workforce, which is crucial for the establishment of such an interdisciplinary field of application.
Profile Building NRW
The Profile Building funding line is part of an overarching, open-topic, cross-disciplinary research funding program. The funding provided is intended to strengthen and support universities and research institutions in NRW in developing new research profiles and focal points, and in establishing strong research networks. Building on existing strengths, areas of potential in NRW are to be expanded so that they can significantly sharpen the research profiles of the respective institution. In the 2022 funding round, ten new projects will be funded with 27 million euros in total.
NRW Science Minister Ina Brandes emphasized: “The future is being devised, researched, and developed in North Rhine-Westphalia. With our funding program, we are creating scope for researchers to explore subjects and network with each other across and beyond different disciplines. This provides fertile ground for innovative ideas that make our everyday lives that much easier.”
Source: Forschungszentrum Jülich