Siemens RIE Aachen Arc Conference 2022
Sustainable Energy and Infrastructure
On December 7 and 8, the RWTH Aachen University and Siemens welcomed researchers, managers, founders and students to join the annual Siemens Research and Innovation Ecosystem Aachen Arc Conference. This year we were glad to invite our guests back in person to come together and over 100 followed our invitation to join the conference live in Aachen. At the same time, participants from all over the world had the opportunity to join parts of the conference virtually.
This year’s topic "Sustainable Energy and Infrastructure" addressed the urgent discussions on grid and building technologies to tackle the current energy crisis and environmental challenges our society faces. Beyond introducing new research and innovation on grids and buildings, experts discussed how we can master the energy crisis in grids and buildings and have the infrastructure ready for the fast energy transition.
Special guests from TU Delft
The Siemens RIE ecosystem we introduced at last year’s conference aims to connect excellent institutions in the region to tackle the challenges facing society with innovative solutions. Therefore, we invited TU Delft to participate as an ecosystem partner actively and become part of the Aachen Arc ecosystem.
Conference Day 1
Starting with a welcome by Prof. Malte Brettel (RIE Management Sponsor at RWTH) and Dr. Peter Körte (CTO & CSO, Siemens AG), both emphasized the challenges ahead and the unique research landscape of the RWTH Aachen University and the region as a whole to address them.
Dr. Körte, who recently joined the Board of Governors at the RWTH Aachen, will work even more closely with RWTH Aachen and made a call to action to all participants to generate ideas of what we can do together to lower the energy costs by combining smart grids and buildings.
After this inspirational opening, Prof. Albert Moser (Chair of IAEW, RWTH Aachen) and Prof. Stefan Nießen (Head of Technology Field Sustainable Energy & Infrastructure, Siemens AG) gave insights into the grids of the future in a tandem keynote.
Prof. Moser presented the challenges for the transmission grids and what technical solutions can help to increase the capacity of transmissions. Whereases, Prof. Nießen gave an overview of how distribution grids can operate intelligently with sensor communication, central & decentral cloud computing and power electronics to supply twice as much electrical energy. Concerning the energy crisis, the tandem keynote summed up two key takeaways: The energy transition is only possible with innovation in the grids and today’s grids can supply twice as much energy with further cooperation of the industry and research.
The next keynote by Prof. Dirk Müller (E.ON Energy Research Center, Chair of Institute for Energy Efficient Buildings and Indoor Climate, RWTH Aachen) gave an outlook on buildings of the future focusing on district heating networks, heat pump technology and examples of large city district solutions. Buildings of the future are already built, but they have to become more flexible, data-driven and user-centric by designing control systems aligned with the user’s demand.
For the first time this year, PhD candidates could apply and get the chance to present their research topic to the audience. Three doctorate candidates were selected to pitch to the Siemens jury and win 3000 Euro. Paul Maximilian Röhrig (IAEW, RWTH Aachen) pitched his topic “Analysis of exogenous influencing factors on a robust transformation path for municipal energy supply systems,” followed by Klemens Schumann (IAEW, RWTH Aachen) with his research on “Analyzing the effects of a nationwide energy sharing roll-out”. The last pitch, “Learning Strategies for Data-Driven Model Predictive Control of Building Energy Systems” by Phillip Stoffel (E.ON ERC, RWTH Aachen), convinced the jury and he took the prize money home.
Afterwards, a lively panel took place moderated by Nils Körber (IAEW, RWTH Aachen). Dr. Adam Slupinski (Siemens AG), Prof. Andreas Ulbig (IAEW, RWTH), Asst. Prof. Alex Stefanov (IEPG, TU Delft) discussed how buildings and grids can be combined to interact intelligently.
Nils Körber started the panel by re-emphasizing the importance of flexibility in a future decentral energy system. The panelists shared their takes on the topic: Distribution system operators need to embrace digitalization and leverage the data to enable flexibility in the energy system. They furthermore need to utilize their network observations to build calculation tools and find bottlenecks to apply them for the flexibility of buildings and grids network. And to shed light on the distribution grids and further improve the network, reliable and extensive IT and IoT projects are necessary.
Dr. Peter Körte wrapped up the first conference day with the statement that all the basic technologies we need are already available today and we need to start building and applying them properly to accelerate the energy transition. The rector Prof. Ulrich Rüdiger closed the conference with a strong call to continue the strategic partnership and drive future collaborations.
Conference Day 2
The second day of the conference started with a lab tour at the IAEW Center for Grid Integration and Storage Technologies. The IAEW team demonstrated the laboratory with a real distribution grid. Different grid topologies are available to test new components and modes of operation under other conditions and analyze the effect of disturbances in network operation on the reliability of future distribution networks.
Next, we headed to the Collective Incubator, the co-host of the second day, where the expert exchanges, TechTalks and a young innovator panel discussion took place. The participants joined expert exchanges to dive deeper into the input of the first conference. Prof. Christoph van Treeck (E3D, RWTH Aachen) and Dr. Henning Fuhrmann (Siemens AG) hosted the expert exchange on building technologies. Prof. Andreas Ulbig (IAEW, RWTH Aachen) and Dr. Adam Slupinski (Siemens AG) led the expert exchange on grid technologies.
At the same time, TechTalks were hosted in the Townhall of the Collective Incubator. Dr. Raifa Akkaoui (TU Delft) explained the potential use of blockchain as a technology to enhance the cyber security and resilience of the control of distributed energy resources within residential areas. Marco Wirtz (E.ON ERC, RWTH Aachen), founder of nPro, a planning tool for districts, demonstrated how buildings can be decarbonized from a heat and cooling perspective. Erik Brümmendorf, co-founder of aedifion GmbH, described how their technology helps to optimize building operations in non-residential buildings to reduce carbon emissions. Matthias Schnieders from Siemens AG explained how his team transforms the energy infrastructure by building innovative solutions for flexible, efficient and resilient digital grids.
Young Innovator Panel Discussion
Following the TechTalks, all four speakers joined an exciting discussion moderated by Nils Körber (IAEW, RWTH Aachen). The speakers shared their takes whether our grids and buildings are ready for the fast transition. Again, a key takeaway is that technology is available to master a fast energy transition, but we need to build and improve the efficiency. There need to be more processes on the administration side of buildings and residential owners to scale the technology. Also, grid operators must become more open to innovation to enable a fast energy transition.
Quoting Dr. Peter Körte, “Only if we are open and pull together can we change the world and solve major challenges”, we need to drive this urgent topic further and tackle the challenges by working together with the ecosystem. “
If you would like to become part of the Siemens RIE Aachen Arc or get in touch with one of our speakers or panelists, feel free to reach out!