How a German start-up is helping add more renewables to the grid

  • The "global energy transition", the move to sources such as solar power, is set to have a long-lasting impact. 
  • Intelligent grids that can cope with the large-scale adoption of renewables will be important in the years ahead.

Renewable sources of energy are becoming increasingly important cogs in the global energy mix. This shift from fossil-fuel based sources to ones such as solar and wind — the "global energy transition" — will have a long-lasting impact. 

Research and consultancy group Wood Mackenzie, for example, has said that solar and wind will meet "close to 20% of global power needs" by the year 2035.

The energy transition will not be a simple process, however. While sources such as solar and wind are renewable, they do not promise a constant and predictable stream of power.

Within this context, the development of intelligent grids that are able to cope with the large-scale adoption of renewables will be important in the years ahead.

In Cologne, Germany, one start-up wants to aid the transition with a range of tools. Founded in 2017, Envelio is a spin-off from research undertaken at RWTH Aachen University. While at the university, the company's founders developed software and algorithms related to the planning and operation of energy networks.

"Our main aim at Envelio is to drive the digital transformation of energy grids forwards because … That's a crucial step which is needed for (a) successful energy transition," Simon Koopman, CEO and co-founder of the business, told CNBC's "Sustainable Energy."

"If we want to integrate renewables on a massive scale — and also charging points — into our energy system then it doesn't work without a digital transformation of the grids," Koopman added.

Koopman went on to describe the company's intelligent grid platform as "basically a digital operating system for grids."

EnvelioIntelligent Grid Platform, or IGP, uses software to help distribution grid operators digitize and automate planning and operation processes.

"With our software we are helping distribution system operators to integrate renewables faster on the grids and also be more direct with their customers," Fabian Potratz, a co-founder of the firm, said.

"For example, we are providing an online 'quick check' where our grid customers can easily pinpoint a location on a map, enter the load or renewable source they want to connect to the grid there and then … get a response whether it's possible or not within seconds."

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