New power plant processes

Further expansion of renewable energies involves developmental challenges for conventional power plants where faster load changes, more frequent start-up and shut-down, operation at low partial loads and longer downtimes will increasingly be necessary. This requires further research activities to achieve optimisation at the component, process and plant level and design progressive (hybrid) systems as well as innovative cycle processes. With a view to environmental protection and resource conservation, a further increase in the efficiency, availability and reliability of electricity and heat generation is also important despite the focus on flexibility aspects. Efficiency and emissions in the plants’ partial load range are gaining relevance. In general, digitalisation is becoming increasingly important.

In regard of economic efficiency and the reduction of power generation costs, the aim is to develop solutions that serve both the retrofitting of existing plants and replacement investments in conventional power plants. Research is being conducted into innovative materials and process technologies in component production which meet changing loads during power plant operation. Among others, high-temperature heat pumps are to be developed and integrated. Furthermore, new fuels and processes, such as the addition or use of pure hydrogen and supercritical CO2 will also be investigated.

Research relating to new power plant processes also focuses on the following topics: transferable technological processes and operational management concepts, internal power plant infrastructure as well as concepts for the capture and use of CO2 in the context of waste and biogenic residue incineration, including materials development and advancement (e.g. CO2 pipes, CO2 compressors, CO2 capture processes).

Energy storage systems

In line with the expansion of renewable energies, demand is rising for large-scale, efficient energy storage systems which balance out the natural fluctuations associated with renewable energy. Existing energy infrastructure including central large-scale power plants could be used for this purpose. These plants could function as large-scale, efficient power storage systems and thus contribute to a stable energy supply in the future. Furthermore, they could direct any electricity produced in excess of demand towards economically expedient uses. Research thus focuses on issues relating to the integration of energy storage systems into the power plant process, for example high-temperature heat storage systems, thermal electricity and pumped thermal electricity storage systems or isentropic storage systems in which renewable electricity is reversibly converted into heat and, if necessary, into mechanical energy - such as rotation.

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