Mayor of Freiburg points up the key role of smart technologies to accelerate the transition to renewable energy

Dr. Dieter Salomon 

Mayor of the City of Freiburg


The political decisions  supporting a gradual fade-out of nuclear energy by the Federal Government and the German Parliament in Spring 2011 have made clear that more measures than the expansion of renewable energies on a massive scale are urgently needed. For a successful energy turnaround, a large proportion of regenerative energies – water and wind power, solar energy and bioenergy and, in the medium term, geothermal energy – is, therefore, indispensable. This includes  a significant facilities expansion  for combined heat and power generation in order to use and produce energy as efficiently as possible.

However,  the creation of new structures for the transport and  distribution of the electrical energy is equally important. On the one hand, this involves a high-capacity network  to transport regenerative energy from the source to the consumer,  ensuring  a safe supply at national level. On the other hand, this requires new efficient  network structures within an integrated system of production, storage, consumption and network management. Smart grids – intelligent and communicating networks – store energy, compensate voltage peaks and ensure a stable supply of energy for the consumers. Most importantly, they help to save energy by connecting the existing network structures in a sensible and more efficient way.

Constructing and implementing new grids are therefore not the most essential measures. Instead, we should better optimise the current use of the already existing energy management networks. They represent an important requirement for the success of an energy turnaround based on renewable energy sources and alternative supply systems.

Yet this also presents big future challenges for both the political direction and scientific research. As a result of this scenario, the “Local Renewables” Conference for 2012 will be focused on smart technologies, and aimed at providing suggestions for their practical implementation. We are praticularly fortunate to have the support of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, which conducts extensive research in this important field. The institute also offers a platform for the development and application of smart metering systems and intelligent energy management that is in step with actual practice: the SmartEnergyLab.


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