Flexible Electrical Networks

The research campus Flexible Electrical Networks

The aim of the research campus Flexible Electrical Networks (FEN) in Aachen is to make a contribution to the energy transition by researching and developing a flexible power grid. Thanks to smart and connected components, this grid will in future deliver energy supply from a high proportion of decentralised and renewable sources. At the same time, the grid developed at the research campus FEN will ensure secure and affordable power supply.

©RWTH Aachen University, Foto: Peter Winandy

The vision

How is the research campus making a difference?

The increasing share of power from renewable sources as envisaged in the energy transition also means changed requirements for existing power grids. That is why the grids must be expanded to provide more efficiency and capacity. The research campus FEN is working on flexible, automated direct current (DC) grids for our future energy supply. They are expected to replace the traditional alternating current (AC) grid to guarantee secure, efficient and flexible supply even with a growing number of decentralised and renewable energy sources.

The transdisciplinary research at the FEN Campus is focussed on the development of DC technology in the areas of grids and systems, components, digitalisation and socio-economics. The collaboration of science and industry under one roof, the integration of university test centres and laboratories and the unique medium-voltage DC test grid are ideal conditions for developing and realising the grids of the future. Furthermore, the organisational structure of the research campus FEN is also geared towards collaboration. Equal numbers of members from science and industry on the relevant bodies enable innovation beyond the boundaries of individual disciplines.

The “FEN Think Tank” on the campus of RWTH Aachen University also enables a direct exchange of views between the partners. The research campus FEN offers a special programme for industry partners which gives their employees the opportunity to further develop their skills in workshops and research projects within the FEN projects.

Research priorities

What is the main focus of the research campus?

Research at the FEN Campus is focussed on the integration and further development of DC technology in five different research areas: Activities in the grids and systems area aim at adapting the basis for planning to DC grids and studying their impact on the existing AC infrastructure. The components area of the research campus is tasked with testing the materials required to build and operate DC grids. The digitalisation research area is dedicated to the realisation of a cloud-based platform for smart energy services as well as the safety and security of future smart grids. Socio-economics focuses on the acceptance of the energy transition and DC grids within wider society as well as on the associated ecological, urban-planning and economic aspects. Within a fifth area of research, standardisation, the research campus FEN is actively contributing to the development and international establishment of standards and regulations for DC grids and components.