Technology Trending: GB digital spine, German electricity highway, computers in space

Technology Trending: GB digital spine, German electricity highway, computers in space

A ‘digital spine’ for Britain’s electricity system, the starting signal given for German electricity highway and a proposal for computers and data centres in space are on this week’s technology radar.

A ‘digital spine’ for Britain’s electricity system

For the future energy system data and digitalisation with new software, systems and platforms is key, with the ability to exchange data a fundamental feature.

The UK’s Energy Digitalisation Taskforce has described a ‘digital spine’ as a “thin layer of interaction and interoperability across all players which enables a minimal layer of operation critical data to be ingested, standardised and shared in near-real time.”

Or put another way, it is a concept of technical processes and defined governance roles and responsibilities that will allow the exchange of energy system data in a secure and interoperable manner.

Have you read?
E.DSO maps digitalised energy system transformation in new whitepaper
Is Germany’s grid ready for a renewable net zero?

Now, with a government grant, Arup is to lead a six-month feasibility study with the Energy Systems Catapult and University of Bath to assess the feasibility of a ‘digital spine’ concept for the UK energy system.

The work is aimed to establish the needs case for an energy system ‘digital spine’ and its benefits to establishing a smart, flexible, decarbonised energy system.

The study also will aim to understand the potential scope of an energy system ‘digital spine’, the data infrastructure required to deliver it and the costs.

Starting signal given for German electricity highway

German TSO 50Hertz has revealed that the groundbreaking for the converter for the SuedOstLink connection has taken place and it is now entering the construction phase.

The significance is that the converter marks the starting point of a 540km DC connection that will run between Wolmirstedt in Saxony-Anhalt and Landshut in Bavaria and is set to be one of the most important grid development projects for the German energy transition.

The plan for the SuedOstLink is to transport large quantities of electricity from onshore wind farms in the federal states of Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and offshore wind farms in the North and Baltic Seas to the south of Germany.

It should therefore secure the supply of electricity for several millions of private households and companies.

Stefan Kapferer, CEO of 50Hertz, has revealed the acceleration of permitting procedures as playing a key role in the project.

“Here in Wolmirstedt, this has worked out wonderfully: after only seven months, the permit for the construction of the converter was issued. This demonstrates how fast we can progress when all parties involved are working towards the same goal in an open and solution-oriented manner.”

The SuedOstLink is a joint project between 50Hertz and TenneT, with the former responsible for the northern part and the latter for the southern, including a converter in the Isar substation.

Computers and data centres in space

If a proposal from IT specialists at the Bauman Moscow State Technical University takes off, data centres and supercomputers could be placed into space as a measure to reduce energy costs and the greenhouse gas emissions on Earth.

In particular, the concept is suggested to be particularly appropriate for quantum computers, which need to operate at ultra-low temperatures.

Further they could serve as an ‘edge’ computing service for raw data from Earth observation satellites, reducing the Earth-based need for that computational capability, and transmitting the final data set to the Earth.

The proposal is that these should be placed at the inner Lagrangian (L1) point about 1.5 million km from the Earth towards the Sun where the gravitational forces of the two are in balance and a satellite there would ‘hover’.

The orbital complex would consist of solar panels, an energy converter, heat release devices and equipment for processing and transmitting information.

“If several such centres are created, they should be able to exchange data among themselves in order to form a ‘space cloud’,” Georgy Shcheglov, who led the proposal, was quoted as saying.

While the cost and practicality of sending such complexes in space is one challenge – and initial estimates are that the benefits could exceed the costs – the bigger challenge at this stage is technologies for wireless transmission over that long distance.

The scientists are reported to now be conducting a feasibility study and developing a business plan.