STORY Power Generation

Use of Artificial Intelligence to control the energy systems of the future

Posted on October 12, 2022 by Peter Thomas, Images by Rolls-Royce Power Systems

Rolls-Royce is using mtu EnergetIQ to control its smart energy systems – all the way from simple emergency generator sets to complex microgrid set-ups. EnergetIQ is flexible, scalable and based on Artificial Intelligence.
Friedrichshafen, Germany

There's an energy revolution underway around the world, with energy technologies becoming ever more diverse, sustainable, and decentralized. As a result, energy systems are getting bigger and the scenarios in which they operate more complex, which brings new challenges to be overcome in terms of control and regulation. The Rolls-Royce answer to these developments is called mtu EnergetIQ –   a smart automation platform comprising the mtu EnergetIQ Manager, which is the central control unit, and distributed mtu EnergetIQ Asset controllers.  

EnergetIQ is already proving its performance capabilities in the field – it controls the emergency power supply at a data center in Japan and is managing the gas generator sets of various customers in the US. A more complex plant comprising gas generator sets, battery storage systems and photovoltaic installations is to be added to the list in the coming months.    

Endlessly scalable and adaptable to individual needs  

The new solution is highly flexible, endlessly scalable, and can be tailored to individual customer requirements. This versatility is all-important, as Jan Henker, Senior Expert Automation and Controls at Rolls-Royce and responsible for EnergetIQ explains: “These days, even if you're looking at what seems like a pretty basic emergency power system, you'll hardly be able to escape the issue of automation,” said the 44-year-old electrical engineer who has been with Rolls-Royce since 2010.  “Because as soon as you start putting several components together, you need very comprehensive, high-performance automation.” The job of EnergetIQ is to work out the ideal mix in terms of power generation, power storage and the power requirement –   both currently and for the future. In the specific case of a microgrid, EnergetIQ, keeping in line with the customer's wishes, would determine the current energy mix based on current and future weather data, the prices on the electricity exchange and the customer's energy requirement.  

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Leveraging the strengths of different technologies  

As Jan Henker explains, microgrids controlled by EnergetIQ would possibly involve photovoltaics, wind power, battery energy storage, electrolyzers, fuel cells and classical generator sets based on gas and diesel engines. “If you want to achieve perfect interplay in leveraging the strengths of the different technologies, and not just today, but tomorrow, next week, and beyond, then what you need isn't a fixed operating strategy but one that constantly re-calculates itself automatically. That requires an over-arching, data-driven solution –   in other words, the optimizer function of mtu EnergetIQ.”  

Rolls-Royce is using mtu EnergetIQ to control its smart energy systems – all the way from simple emergency generator sets to complex microgrid set-ups.

Combining the best from existing solutions with novel approaches  

Jan Henker and his colleagues devoted a lot of energy to harmonizing control of the different products in the rapidly growing mtu portfolio. mtu EnergetIQ is a seamless automation solution that bridges all components – from a single power generation unit or energy storage battery to complex energy systems. It also supports full integration, from single sensors to clouds. The team also attached value to clear, uniform visuals and standard interfaces. So users always enjoy the same 'look and feel', whether EnergetIQ is controlling a fuel cell, a battery, a classical generator set, or a complex microgrid.    

“We took the best from all the control systems we've devised over the past twenty years and used novel approaches to create an overall solution that's fit for the future,” said Henker, summing up the story of EnergetIQ.  

The capabilities of EnergetIQ will be increasingly called for in the near future as many customers begin to re-conceptualize their power supply systems. To be factored in alongside the move towards C02 reduction and renewables in recent years are the fossil fuel supply restrictions and substantial price increases that have arisen in 2022. The future of energy technology lies in increasing diversity, complexity and integration. For this trend, as Jan Henker explains, the new mtu control solution is the perfect fit. As a centralized solution with full redundancy, it offers a high level of availability and the ability to adjust easily to technical changes in the systems.  

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