Renewable energies are a central pillar of the federal government's Energy Strategy 2050. For example, by 2050, photovoltaics should cover 20 % of the total power consumption. But can the existing power grid cope with such a massive input from the sun, wind and other renewable resources? Electricity production from these resources is inconstant, and the grid is not designed to handle the expected large fluctuations. In future, if the grid is not adapted, this could lead to power peaks that can overload the lines and jeopardize the stability of the electricity supply.
In two interconnected projects, researchers at the EPFL have developed a system that exploits the potential of the so-called "smart grid" to stabilize the power network. The theoretical principles and the software required to control all complex sub-networks in real time were developed in one of these projects. Using an EPFL building, the other project demonstrated how the inertia of heating and cooling systems can be used to buffer power fluctuations.