Faculty of Engineering is doing research for the energy transition

Marius Langwasser, Marco Liserre and Giovanni De Carne work at the Chair of Power Electronics on the ENSURE research project.
Photo/Copyright: Raissa Nickel, Kiel University

Nicolaus Copernicus established a new world view in the 16th century. Suddenly, the earth was no longer the centre of the universe. Similarly, the energy transition represents a paradigm shift for our society, not only nationally, as Federal Minister of Education and Research, Johanna Wanka emphasised on the occasion of the Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015: “It could establish itself internationally as the guiding principle for ending our use of energy produced from fossil fuels.” Renewable energy should be expanded as an alternative to nuclear power. Therefore, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is supporting four projects, named after the mathematician and astronomer Copernicus. They are doing research on new energy technologies.

The Copernicus project ENSURE

The Copernicus project “ENSURE” stands for “New Energy Network Structures for the Energy Revolution.” Under the leadership of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 23 project partners including universities, research institutes and businesses are working on transforming the current energy landscape. In a holistic approach, electricity, gas, heating and transport should be revolutionised, in order to meet the energy policy and climate protection goals of the federal government by the year 2050. In total, funding for the first phase of the project from September 2016 to August 2019 is 40 million Euros, of which 600,000 Euros have been allocated to Kiel University. The internationally-renowned energy specialist Professor Marco Liserre and his research team from the Department of Power Electronics are involved in ENSURE.

Kiel University’s contribution

The Kiel-based group led by Professor Liserre is doing research on structures for an efficient and cost-effective power grid with centralised and decentralised energy provision. A possible solution is offered by hybrid networks with direct and alternating current. Intelligent terminals should manage the networks so that the transmission capacity is increased, errors are corrected, and stability is maintained. “We require one voltage to transmit energy, and another voltage level to use energy. Power electronics enables us to use both systems in the best possible way,” said power electronics expert Liserre. With the European research project HEART (Highly Efficient And Reliable smart Transformer), Liserre has already gained experience at Kiel University addressing big issues in energy provision. This makes the expert even more delighted about the funds awarded to Kiel University: “It is great that ENSURE offers us the opportunity to put our existing ideas about intelligent transformers into practice.”

Before now, it has been nearly impossible to guarantee energy stability and energy security in Germany, due to the high population density. “What makes the Copernicus project special is that we tackle the existing problems on a large scale,” explained Liserre. Once various technologies have been tested and evaluated during the first project phase, the results will be implemented in a second phase (2019 to 2022). Initially, a test environment will be used for this purpose. The results will then be incorporated into a third phase up to 2025, for building a multi-modal network demonstrator. The exact location has not yet been finalised, but Professor Liserre is hopeful: “We are optimistic that the energy concept of the future will be tested in Schleswig-Holstein.”

The large-scale demonstrator should be funded primarily by consortium members from the industrial sector. It will provide an example of what the future energy supply of an urban and surrounding region with tens of thousands of inhabitants could look like. According to Liserre, it is particularly important to encourage acceptance of the new technologies amongst the population, especially when so many people are affected. Therefore, in every development phase, socio-economic aspects are taken into consideration, to prevent resistance. Liserre said: People have a natural fear of systems that they don’t fully understand. It will be a challenge to create trust in the new energies. But our federal state could play an important role in solving the global energy problems. Furthermore, such an initiative would be attractive for new local businesses.”

More information about ENSURE can be found here:


HEART project about versatile electricity at Kiel University:



Prof. Dr. Marco Liserre

Kiel University

Institute of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology

Tel.: 0431/880-6100

E-mail: ml@tf.uni-kiel.de