A shift in energy policy: IAV presents intelligent software solution for rapid network expansion

07.12.2020  — 

Berlin. The future charging requirements of e-vehicles and the conversion to green electricity are placing high demands on distribution networks. With “IAV Optera,” Berlin-based engineering specialist IAV has developed self-learning software that allows distribution network operators to automate their strategic target network planning and compare different expansion scenarios. Practical testing at customers’ premises shows: IAV Optera is accelerating the planning process and reducing investment costs thanks to optimized network structures.

Dr Michael Schollmeyer, who is responsible for smart grids at IAV, says: “Electricity network operators have so far been faced with the complex task of building and operating a powerful yet affordable power grid. With the energy turnaround, this is becoming incomparably more challenging: fluctuating producers as well as new types of consumers are increasingly pushing the networks to their limits. With IAV Optera, we have developed powerful software that supports operators in planning, optimizes existing networks and thus significantly reduces investment costs – by up to 20 percent in tests.”

digitale ameisen für bessere stromnetze

At the heart of IAV Optera is a variation of the ant algorithm optimized by IAV that is frequently used in logistics distribution tasks. It is modeled on ants in search of food, which choose the shortest possible link between their nest and a food source. For IAV Optera, software engineers have extended the algorithm to cope with the complexity of power distribution networks. IAV Optera allows both the planning of a new network and the optimization of an existing infrastructure. The network planner can adjust all the key planning criteria with just a few clicks, and the software does the rest. IAV Optera performs load flow and short-circuit calculations, checks for faults and finds suitable disconnection points in the network. The program also determines suitable routes for new underground cables and optimizes the positions of cable branches.

If a network planner uses IAV Optera to initiate the planning of a new distribution network or the optimization of an existing one, the algorithm calculates suitable variants and suggests them on a graphical interface. The network planner can compare the variants, make manual changes and use the software to design an optimum network structure.

«By testing IAV Optera, we are equipping ourselves to cope with increasing demands from the expansion of renewable energies and electric mobility.»

Stephan Fettke — Network planner at LEW Verteilnetz GmbH

“Filtering out the best among thousands of network variants is a typical optimization task for complex problems with many parameters; this is a typical problem that must be solved in many areas of automotive engineering. We have now packed this know-how into IAV Optera, enabling network operators to keep the increasing complexity of planning under control,” says Schollmeyer.

Since 2019, IAV has been cooperating with various network operators in finalizing Optera, including Lechwerke Verteilnetz in Augsburg. The partners gained access to the software via a demo version and tested it in regular operation. Thanks to direct feedback on features and performance, IAV was able to optimize the software to meet specific customer requirements. The software, which is now fully developed, is offered to electricity network operators as Software as a Service (SaaS) via secure cloud access.

Stephan Fettke, network planner at LEW Verteilnetz GmbH (LVN), says: “By automating work steps and offering a high degree of flexibility in parameterization, IAV Optera software offers great potential for efficient and realistic target network planning based on topographic base maps. Our testing of the software to date shows that it is a very helpful tool in mastering our current planning tasks. At the same time, by testing IAV Optera, we are equipping ourselves to cope with increasing demands from the expansion of renewable energies and electric mobility.”

About IAV:
Employing over 8,000 members of staff, IAV is one of the world’s leading engineering partners to the automotive industry. The company has been developing innovative concepts and technologies for future vehicles for over 35 years, generating sales in excess of € 1 billion in 2019. Its customers include all the world’s prominent car manufacturers and component suppliers. Besides vehicle and powertrain development, IAV entered the segment of electric mobility and autonomous driving at an early stage and is now one of the leading engineering service providers in these fields. In addition to its development centers in Berlin, Gifhorn and Chemnitz/Stollberg, IAV also has further operations in Munich, Sindelfingen and Ingolstadt as well as in Europe, Asia and North and South America.