Press release

Cognitive energy systems: New competence center in search of research and energy industry partners.

The new Competence Center for Cognitive Energy Systems is currently being developed in Kassel. The research project on artificial intelligence in energy systems is looking for partners from science and the business sector. Its aim is to become a global innovation leader in this area for Germany as a business and research location. The new competence center, which is funded by the federal state of Hesse, is supported by the Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy System Technology IEE.

“Artificial intelligence is a key technology for driving the energy turnaround: The departure from a centrally organized energy plant industry based on fossil fuels to an energy system based on renewable sources is a very complex process that can only be managed by applying intelligent control,” Angela Dorn, Minister of State for Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts in Hesse, explains. “The Competence Center for Cognitive Energy Systems provides scientists with a space for new ideas and research on innovation in the energy industry. I am pleased that we are supporting its development. Now it is time to pair research expertise with powerful partners from the industry.”

Today, artificial intelligence is primarily used for monitoring or forecasting in the energy industry. However, with the increasing proportion of electricity from renewable energies, it is clear that artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to manage the processes of the energy system on a large scale in the future. The new Competence Center for Cognitive Energy Systems in Kassel, the development of which is funded by the Hessian government with a total of 5.8 million euros between 2020 and 2022, is conducting research in these fields of AI application.

“Generating power from solar and wind works on a much smaller scale and is much more dependent upon the weather than operating conventional power stations. Power consumption must also be flexibly adapted to the energy supply. This is not yet provided by the existing infrastructure. A decentralized energy system will only be possible with real-time digital processes and automated decision-making,” Prof. Dr. Clemens Hoffmann, Director of the Fraunhofer IEE, explains the motivation behind the research project. Hoffmann sees technological innovation as the foundation for the next steps of the energy turnaround:

“The coordination and decision-making processes of a decentralized renewable energy supply are extremely complex. Different systems such as electricity and heat supply as well as mobility can only be coordinated on a large scale through automated decisions. With the development of an ecosystem for cognitive energy systems, we are advancing the applications of AI in the energy sector.”

A decentralized energy system needs AI

There already is a specific need for AI in various areas of the energy industry. As an example, automated energy trading involves systems that autonomously identify and initiate purchases or sales. Also, photovoltaic and wind energy systems as well as charging stations or electrolyzers can optimize their operation with KI, avoiding maintenance and increasing the systems’ lifespan. In the grid area, technology is used to evaluate a multitude of data, to identify critical situations and support troubleshooting.

The Fraunhofer IEE has been using artificial intelligence for predicting weather-dependent energy generation from sun, wind energy and biomass for 15 years. An automatic trading system for the electricity stock exchange EPEX Spot is also being developed in Kassel.

Kassel will become a research location for AI in the energy industry

The Competence Center for Cognitive Energy Systems (K-ES) considers the tasks arising in the energy system from an AI perspective, driving development in the areas of cognitive energy economics, cognitive power grids and cognitive energy system technology. “Cognitive systems are capable of autonomously determining their own state and of learning to achieve specific goals. Artificial intelligence is not opposed to human intelligence – it supports it and there is a constant exchange.” According to IEE project lead André Baier, “both sides will change with the evolving technology.”

The energy industry can also build on findings from other industries. AI is already driving change in the automotive industry as well as the retail, insurance and the financial sector with a lasting effect. Intelligent producers and consumers, virtual power plants, smart grid technologies and the real-time energy industry are among the most important fields of technological innovation for the energy turnaround with renewable energy and sector coupling.

Industry concepts and application

The concept for the development of the K-ES was developed by the Fraunhofer IEE. The initiative is based on an agreement from the Hessian government’s coalition contract. The current development phase primarily includes creating an ecosystem for innovation and forming a community of experts. The new competence center is part of the Fraunhofer IEE campus in Kassel, which is currently under construction, and is joining the group of research institutions engaged in the transformation of energy systems.

The first step is to set up premises and to install a cloud system for the IT infrastructure. Next, a digital platform for partners from the business and research sectors for exchanging information will be developed. In the starting phase we want to focus on recruiting scientists and develop competences. “Our aim is to bring together scientists who have a common goal, independent of where they are located,” Bayer explains.

Until the competence center is officially launched, the focus is also on acquiring partners and projects from the energy industry. Because maintaining a close relationship with the energy industry is part of the concept: The K-ES’s services for energy companies include consulting and concept studies from prototypes through to turnkey systems. “We look forward to receiving applications by researchers and companies alike, because this ecosystem thrives on the cooperation of theory and practice,” Hoffmann underlines.

Our goal: To become an internationally renowned research community in Germany.

We are planning to have around 100 experts working in the fields of data science, advances in machine learning, recommender systems and digital innovation management at the K-ES in the next ten years. There are currently 20 people working in these areas of expertise at the Fraunhofer IEE. It is the new institution’s aim to become one of the leading communities for AI in energy economics in Germany.

In order to take into account the international scope of AI research, the competence center will also be inviting guest researchers from all over the world to participate. “Thanks to the special training infrastructure, the respective hardware and software as well as an extensive scope of existing models and data, we are able to conduct efficient research in AI for the energy system across locations,” Christoph Scholz, lead scientist at the K-ES, explains the possibilities.

Around the world, there is a major focus on the development of AI. Germany has previously spent significantly less on research in this field than its competitors China and the USA. The German government is planning to invest 5 billion euros in AI by 2025 within the framework of the Coronavirus Stimulus Program (“Zukunftspaket”). “Applying AI to the energy system will enable Germany to become a global leader in innovation as a business and research location. It is therefore important for stakeholders to promote this field together,” Hoffmann explains.

André Baier | email: | telephone: +49 561 7294-372

Web Expert Session | Cognitive Energy Systems | September 8, 2020 | 1:30 pm

Please register at:

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Online presentation of the Competence Center for Cognitive Energy Systems and points of contact for cooperation possibilities:

Dipl. Math. André Baier, M.Sc., project lead Competence Center for Cognitive Energy Systems, Fraunhofer IEE, Kassel:

“Our innovative application center for cognitive energy systems is making the energy turnaround intelligent.”

Dr. rer. nat. Christoph Scholz, lead scientist Competence Center for Cognitive Energy Systems, Fraunhofer IEE, Kassel:

“In order to establish deep learning in the energy system, we need to make neural decisions comprehensible.”

About cognitive systems

A cognitive system is capable of autonomously determining its own state and the state of its assets based on available information, and of learning to achieve specified goals autonomously based on its ability to adapt. Cognitive energy systems are a key technology for the energy turnaround. In the energy industry these can be found in the areas of grid management and the management of supply and consumption.

About the K-ES

The Competence Center for Cognitive Energy Systems (K-ES) has been in development by the Fraunhofer IEE to conduct research in the fields of energy economics, cognitive power grids and cognitive energy system technology since mid-2020. The aim is to complete the development in ten years and for the K-ES to become a national and international center for artificial intelligence in research and teaching.

About Fraunhofer IEE

The Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy System Technology (IEE) in Kassel develops solutions for the technological and economic challenges of the energy turnaround. Research focus:

  • Energy information technology
  • Energy meteorology and geo information systems
  • Energy economics and system design
  • Energy process engineering and energy storage
  • Grid planning and grid operation
  • Grid stability and converter technology
  • Thermal energy technology

The Fraunhofer IEE is participating in the development of algorithms for the forecasting of power supply and consumption within the context of the Germany-wide SINTEG (“Schaufenster intelligente Energie”) funding program.