Today's energy supply system is characterized by networked, geographically distributed structures that must meet the highest safety and reliability standards. The transformation of this system to a sustainable structure characterized by renewable energies is a central social challenge of the 21st century. The inherent volatility of renewable energy sources requires a shift away from hierarchically structured top-down energy networks towards flexible, cross-sectoral and intelligent energy systems using a cellular approach. Therefore, in the course of the energy turnaround, so-called microgrids represent an important solution component to ensure a secure, clean, efficient and cost-effective energy supply in the future. The term microgrid is used to describe the concept of a local grid, which consists of energy sources, storage facilities and consumers in different sectors, and which operates with or without external grid connection. This structure creates a wide range of options for increasing flexibility in operation. The local integration of renewable energies by means of microgrids, for example within industrial companies or residential areas, relieves the distribution and transmission grids and reduces the need for cost- and resource-intensive grid expansion. The efficiency of the energy supply is also increased, as loss-intensive transport over long distances is avoided and energy is increasingly generated and consumed locally. Through local storage integration, microgrids can also provide grid services within the primary, secondary and tertiary control systems and even operate autonomously as so-called island grids in emergencies. These grid-stabilising measures can be strengthened if geographically neighbouring microgrids are coupled to form virtual power plants or large storage facilities. The potentials of microgrids have so far been investigated worldwide primarily academically. However, the industrial implementation is subject to high technical and financial risks. For successful transfer to industry, however, both extensive practical studies and the upgrading of microgrid components (e.g. power-to-x technologies) for field use are essential.
The Competence Center for Sustainable Energy Technology (KET) at the University of Paderborn, under the leadership of the Department of Power Electronics and Electrical Drive Technology (LEA), is developing the infrastructure with which the behavior of e.g. battery storage systems, wind turbines, photovoltaic systems or combined heat and power plants can be simulated in the laboratory. With the Microgrid laboratory in Paderborn, a platform for future research and development projects will be created to test and verify new innovative concepts under realistic conditions. This will also strengthen the competitive position of the domestic economy.