The Ultimate Power Struggle: Germany's Transformation to Smart Grid and the Lessons for Ireland

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Over four days from 21st to 24th October, twelve Irish organisations took part in a study tour to Germany in the area of Smart Grid. During this intensive four-day programme, the Irish group - which included high-level representatives of the Irish transmission system operator, Eirgrid, and the distribution system operator, ESB Networks – visited a range of real-life testing and demonstrations in Germany for emerging smart grid concepts and technologies. The trip took them over 800km across the country from the Allgäu Region in southern Germany to Aachen in the West, visiting projects showcasing the wide range of systems necessary for the ‘Smart Grid Age’, for example demand response technology, automation and control systems, home energy management systems, various electronics, smart appliances, electric cars, electric and thermal storage devices.

In addition they took part in a round-table presentation and discussion session in Stuttgart town hall, at which smart grid topics such as policy-related aspects, secure communications systems and the implications for distribution networks were debated by a German-Irish audience. One of the speakers, Ludwig Karg from B.A.U.M. Consult, the man who heads up the consortium co-ordinating a €140m e-Energy funding programme in Germany with the aim of testing the fundamental elements of a new smart electricity supply system under real conditions in six model regions, gave a very comprehensive overview of the policy-related aspects of smart grid in Germany which was highly regarded by the Irish delegation and instigated a great level of discussion.

The study tour took place against the background of the necessary transformation of energy grids to meet the growing demands of a more sophisticated energy age. The participants were impressed to see how a country like Germany is taking the first steps towards revamping their grid for the new energy age, and regarded the German technology and solutions in the area of smart grid as very advanced and flexible. The benefit of these site visits is in the practical nature of being able to view technologies in use, as well as a greater level of interaction with the German experts, which is much more inspiring and informative.


As part of the tour, the group visited two of the e-Energy pilot projects, Model City Mannheim (moma) and Smart Watts in Aachen. In Mannheim, one of the main consortium members, Power Plus Communications, presented the moma project in which an intelligent controller called an ‘energy butler’ was installed in approximately 1,000 households across Mannheim. The participants were given variable tariffs and the way in which these tariffs influenced consumer behaviour and energy consumption was monitored under the project.


The value of these pilot projects are not just in providing potential solutions: even if results aren’t always conclusive, the projects are providing valuable real-life testing and highlighting potential problems and issues in the long journey towards the transformation of the energy grid. Although projects were different in scope, the results were very similar. For example, it is clear that consumer behaviour is majorly influenced by the use of variable energy tariffs and it was shown that commercial customers can potentially save up to 20% of energy costs, and private customers between 5 and 10%, by utilising the strategies employed in the projects.


The delegation got an overview of many different smart grid technologies. For example, at the Diehl AKO plant the participants viewed a live demo of an energy management system. Diehl AKO are part of an alliance of companies, including one of the Irish participants Glen Dimplex, who have developed the Smart Eco System which brings together modern solutions from different manufacturers for energy production, energy management, storage and intelligent control in one user-friendly system. The user can then efficiently control energy consumption and use excess electricity from stored renewable energy.



Electric cars are also a vital part of the smart grid jigsaw due to their ability to contribute to demand-side management. At the University of Kempten the group visited the Institute for Electrical Energy Systems where they carry out a variety of electric car testing. There they learned about the very good developments in electric car battery technology which are bringing electric cars into the mainstream, and combatting the misconception that electric cars are only for city driving. The group were also given an insight into this at the IRENE smart grid project in Wilpodsried, as part of which electric cars were given to 30 local residents over a period of nine months and despite their assumption that they would travel much longer distances, 80% of distances were less than 20km, despite being in a rural area. It’s really a case that people need to change their mentality. A very possible future scenario for car usage could be that electric cars are driven day-to-day, and car sharing schemes would be utilised for occasional long-distance driving. The savings – both financial as well as environmental - would be enormous.  


Whatever the complexities of the market, some great opportunities for German-Irish co-operation were already in evidence by the end of the tour. Car2Go will be re-introduced to important Irish stakeholders by ESB e-cars; a German-Irish collaboration involving sensors for substation monitoring was discussed; the Irish distribution system operator offered the opportunity to German companies with innovative technology to test their equipment on the Irish grid. Overall the success of the study tour has served only to strengthen the co-operation between Germany and Ireland in the area of smart grid.




Click here for the English version of the Smart Grid Study Tour information brochure.

The information brochure contains following:

1. Welcome letter
2. Study Tour Programme
3. Contact details of German experts
4. Contact details of Irish participants
5. Irish participant profiles
6. Overview of project visits
7. Opening event programme
8. Opening Event speaker profiles
9. Opening Event participant list
10. Market information – Smart Grid in Germany
11. Overview of Export Initiative
12. Overview of DEinternational
13. Calendar of events (DEinternational & German-Irish Chamber)
14. Evaluation forms (Opening event & Smart Grid Study Tour)



Click here for the German version of the Smart Grid Study Tour information brochure.

The information brochure contains following:

1. Willkommensbrief
2. Programm der Informationsreise
3. Kontaktdaten der irischen Teilnehmer
4. Profile der irischen Teilnehmer
5. Profile der Projektbesichtigungen (auf Englisch)
6. Programm der Auftaktveranstaltung
7. Referenten der Auftaktveranstaltung (auf Englisch)
8. Teilnehmerliste der Auftaktveranstaltung
9. Marktinformationen - Smart Grid in Irland
10. Vorstellung der Exportinitiative Energieeffizienz
11. Vorstellung von DEinternational Irland
12. Eventkalender (auf Englisch)
13. Evaluierungsbögen



More Information
If you would like to get involved or receive more information, please contact:
Ronan Harbison, Commercial Director, DEinternational Ireland
Email:; Tel: 00353-(0)1 6424312

This study tour is organised by DEinternational Ireland as part of the Energy Efficiency Export Initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.