German-Japanese collaboration focuses on energy research
April 16, 2015
The Centre for Solar Energy & Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) in Germany and Japan's Gifu University have joined forces to collaborate closely in energy research. Projects will focus on the intelligent integration of photovoltaics into the grid, production forecasts, and green power-to-gas (P2G) energy storage.
The idea behind this science partnership is to accelerate the technology transfer in both, thereby helping to reshape the energy landscape after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. The coalition is built on solid ground: both partners conduct research in the same fields and their skill-sets are a good match. The agreement to cooperate was reached in late March during a visit in Japan.
The Gifu Prefecture on the main island of Honshu and the state of Baden-Württemberg have long nurtured their political and economic ties. This relationship is now to be carried over into energy research, where the two countries believe they have much to learn from each other.
“We are very pleased to be partnering with Gifu University's centre for next generation energy,” said Frithjof Staiß, managing director at ZSW. “This collaboration makes it easier to share experiences and creates better conditions for an efficient transfer of research results into the marketplace.”
Grid management is a prime example of an area targeted for cooperation. Photovoltaic systems' popularity surged last year in Japan, with output soaring to a total of some 23,000MW by the end of 2014. Concerned about stability issues in their grids, local energy suppliers are viewing the booming photovoltaics market with scepticism.
By teaming up with the German institute, the Japanese researchers expect to benefit from the lessons learned in Germany, where the installed capacity is 16,000MW higher and the integration of solar power into the distribution network is well on track.
Both partners are also striving to improve forecasts for solar and wind power generation. These predictions have to be reliable to ensure the stable and efficient operation of an electrical power supply system that draws on fluctuating energy sources. Gifu University and ZSW complement each other very well in their efforts to forecast weather and production quantities. The partners intend to pursue joint projects aimed to boost their models' accuracy.
The partners also intend to share their insights into green P2G energy storage technology. The increasing number of fuel cells in Japan is driving demand for hydrogen that can be used in energy converters. A renewable electricity source and water can serve to generate hydrogen by electrolysis without producing carbon that adversely affects the climate.
This is one stage of the P2G technology developed largely in the ZSW labs. Gifu University officials are talking about building a power-to-gas plant. The Stuttgart-based scientists will be able to provide assistance if this project goes ahead.
ZSW is one of the leading institutes for applied research in the fields of photovoltaic energy, renewable fuels, battery technology, fuel cells and energy systems analysis. The three ZSW sites at Stuttgart, Ulm and Widderstall are staffed with around 230 scientists, engineers and technicians supported by 70 research and student assistants.