If nuclear power is no longer available from 2022 onwards and Germany withdraws from coal-fired power generation by 2038 at the latest, electricity generation from renewable sources will become indispensable. The rapid phase-out of nuclear and coal energy in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions competes with economically justifiable electricity costs. Therefore, three junior research groups were part of Energy Valley Bavaria and dealt with the following topics:
The Junior Research Group Organic Photovoltaics (OPV) under the direction of Dr. Eva Herzig dealt with the particularities of power generation from solar energy.
Organic solar cells are made of thin films based on carbon molecules similar to the material found in many plastic materials. Like conventional solar cells also organic solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. However, the organic counterpart is significantly thinner, more flexible and potentially cheaper since much less energy needs to be consumed during production.
Due to these interesting properties there is intensive research being carried out on the efficiency, lifetime and production of these solar cells. In the research within the Energy Valley Bavaria project the relationship between structure and function was a major focus, since the efficiency of conversion of light into electricity is highly dependent on the molecular arrangement of the involved molecules within the films.
In collaboration with the Institute of Functional Materials at TUM and at major research institutions not only the surface but also the bulk of the thin films were characterized on the nanoscale and systematically investigated. The goal of this research was to understand the link between function and properties of organic solar cells and to exploit these in manufacturing processes.
The Junior Research Group Control of Renewable Energy Systems (CRES) headed by Dr. Christoph Hackl in a first step focuses on improving the reliability of wind turbine systems.
Main areas of research:
- holistic system modeling including aerodynamics (in collaboration with Prof. Bottasso, Chair of Wind Energy), mechanics and electrical components
- holistic controller design combined with stability and robustness analysis
- fault detection and condition monitoring
The Junior Research Group Energy Efficient and Smart Cities (EESC) headed by Dr. Vicky Cheng aimed at exploring ways to make our cities more energy-efficient and carbon neutral through better understanding of the urban energy systems.
This subject was particularly timely and relevant to us in the context of climate change and the need for a clean energy revolution. The ultimate goal of EESC was to develop the evidence base for actions that can help to shape a sustainable and low carbon energy future:
- Identify opportunities to optimise energy efficiency for building renovation in urban areas with smart grid integration
- Develop an innovative modelling tool for simulating load profiles and demand response in smart grids
- Study the costs and benefits of different urban renovation strategies
- Provide an evidence base for planning building renovation and smart grid deployment in a more coordinated and integrated way