For 50Hertz, active lead management and participation in research and development projects are an integral part of innovation management. In diverse cooperations with academic and industry partners, focus is largely placed on activities in the areas of new technology and digitisation, energy markets and system security, the integration of renewable energies and the required development of the electrical system as well as on supporting the industry in decarbonising its processes. The former scientific council was realigned in the reporting year. From 2021 onwards, the Scientific Advisory & Project Board (SAPB) will align the research areas of 50Hertz with a greater number of disciplines and innovative topics of the future. The new structure in line with forward-looking topics is, amongst other things, expected to support the Company in meeting its strategic objective "From 60 to 100 by 2032: new energy for a strong economy". The Scientific Advisory will aim to enable an open and unbiased dialogue on problems and contribute to reaching a common understanding. The cooperation with scientific institutions in projects is expected to produce concrete results.
In light of the increasing electrification, decentralisation and integration of the continuously growing share of renewable energies, the Company launched its own incubator in May 2020, named "The Nest". The aim is to promote digital transformation projects in an agile manner and overcome the increased complexity of various processes. Furthermore, in this interdisciplinary space the Company strives to enhance the quality and efficiency of its activities and internal processes at all levels.
As an additional component of its strategy "From 60 to 100 by 2032: new energy for a strong economy", 50Hertz draws on its expertise in three real-life laboratories for the energy transition as an associated partner. Under the motto "Nutzen statt abregeln" (utilisation before limitation), 50Hertz is also involved in the construction of power-to-heat plants in Hamburg, Parchim, Rostock, Stralsund and Neubrandenburg, amongst others. These projects all focus on the issues of sector coupling or hydrogen technology. There will be millions of electric vehicles driving and charging on Germany’s roads in the coming years. To ensure that they can also contribute to system stability, data exchange via a smart metering infrastructure is required. For this reason, the distribution grid operator Stromnetz Berlin and the transmission system operator 50Hertz are investigating and testing which kind of data exchange is necessary for this and how balancing power can be provided by a network of electric vehicles in a joint project with Elli and Bosch.IO, subsidiaries of Volkswagen AG and Robert Bosch GmbH. This is an integral component of 50Hertz’s strategy "From 60 to 100 by 2032: new energy for a strong economy".
„With our involvement in the Real Labs, we are specifically supporting the development of power-to-X technologies for the energy market. Because when things get serious in a few years' time, we will need empirical data on the new technology that has been tested and fits the grid.“
Together with various European environmental associations and other transmission system operators, 50Hertz has founded the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI), which supports grid expansion for the effective integration of renewable energies across Europe, driving forward the dissemination of innovative consultation practices in the process.
Overall, around EUR 1.8m was spent on research and development projects in 2020 (prior year: around EUR 2m). This was counterbalanced by EUR 0.1m (prior year: around EUR 0.24m) that 50Hertz received in public non-repayable subsidies.