The Minister heard about artificial intelligence and new materials for energy storage

Wednesday 03 Oct 18

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Tejs Vegge
Professor, Head of Section
DTU Energy
+45 45 25 82 01

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Henrik Madsen
Professor, Head of section
DTU Compute
+45 45 25 34 08

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Jakob Kibsgaard
Associate Professor
DTU Physics
+45 45 25 32 90

Intelligent solutions

DTU Energy, DTU Physics and DTU Compute already have close cooperation in the field, including the Villum Center V-Sustain and Center Denmark on Intelligent Energy Systems. DTU Energy has just launched the AiMADE initiative on the use of artificial intelligence to accelerate the development of new sustainable energy materials.

The Danish Minister of Higher Education and Science Tommy Ahlers visited DTU to hear about accelerated discovery of new battery materials and catalysts, and the use of artificial intelligence in energy planning.

Having just landed a political Energy Agreement in June 2018 and with the European Commission preparing for a new Research and Innovation programme to follow the ambitious Horizon 2020, the Danish Minister of Higher Education and Science Tommy Ahlers visited DTU Energy to hear about Danish research in accelerated discovery of battery materials and catalysts, and the use of artificial intelligence in energy planning.

"Batteries and energy is so important for the Danes that it's very important for me to meet the researchers in person and not just read about their research," the Minister explained the hosts from DTU Energy, going on to tell how Denmark is spending 23 billion DKK annually on research. “And sometimes it's important to tell people what they actually get out of the money in order to make them understand why we prioritize research."

Denmark has been among the frontrunners in energy research and development of new energy materials for decades, which was clearly reflected in the presentations from DTU-professors Tejs Vegge and Henrik Madsen and associate professors Jakob Kibsgaard and Johan Hjelm, representing DTU Energy, DTU Compute and DTU Physics.

"The challenge is to make it possible to store energy from sunny and windy days where production exceeds demand and save it for days when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow. We need storage, but we also need to rethink the entire energy planning, "said Professor Henrik Madsen, DTU Compute.

"We need to establish solutions that intelligently change consumption patterns, subtly moving the power usage to the evening and night hours, where we often have a surplus of wind energy. As demonstrated in the smart CITIES project, we also have to connect the energy storage and artificial intelligence to be able to better predict the need for power storage. It just won’t work if it takes us half an hour to predict the energy demand for the next five minutes."

"We need to rethink and explore entirely new battery concepts using sustainable materials, and we have to be much faster in doing so"
Tejs Vegge, professor, DTU Energy

Artificial intelligence can also be used to accelerate the development of new materials for converting and storing renewable energy, if it is coupled closely to computer simulations and advanced characterization methods.

"It took humankind 150 years to increase the energy density of rechargeable batteries by a factor of five or six and it's simply not fast enough," said Professor Tejs Vegge, DTU Energy, and described how most of the low-hanging fruits have already been picked to make the existing battery materials better and cheaper.

"There are many good batteries, but we have reached a point where it is difficult to improve the cost and efficiency of the batteries by more than a few percent each time we improve on them. We need to rethink and explore entirely new battery concepts using sustainable materials, and we have to be much faster in doing so. Today, it takes several years in the laboratory and many years of further testing before we have developed a new commercial battery, and that is simply too slow if we want batteries that are able to store the excess renewable wind or solar power from second to second, hour to hour and possibly day to day."

The minister of Higher Education and Science Tommy Ahlers then received an in-depth description of how quantum chemical calculations, Big Data from large scale facilities like the European Spallation Source (ESS) in Lund, Sweden, and artificial intelligence can accelerate the discovery and development of, e.g., new catalysts for the production of sustainable fuels and next generation battery materials.

The minister of Higher Education and Science Tommy Ahlers made a tweet about his visit at DTU Energy

"We have a very good research infrastructure in Denmark and the EU in general, and we are leading in areas like computer-based design and experimental characterization of new energy materials. We therefore have an opportunity to take a quantum leap in the area of battery materials, if we get the right support," said Professor Tejs Vegge, while the Minister of Higher Education and Science took notes.

Minister Tommy Ahlers afterwards thanked the DTU-researchers after the presentations for their in-depth introduction to Danish research into accelerated discovery of next generation battery materials and catalysts, and the use of artificial intelligence in energy planning, which will help him in his efforts to strengthen Danish research.

Center Denmark supports the Danish goal of a 100% renewable energy system

Center Denmark, based on the research under the CITIES project (Centre for ITIntelligent Energy Systems), is an integrated research, dissemination and development center to cover all aspects of the energy system, including electricity, gas, district heating/cooling and biomass and most of all methods to predict, control and optimize their interactions using advanced IT solutions. The center's use of AI, Big Data, Cloud Computing and IoT will optimize flexibility throughout the entire energy system through a wide range of research, development and demonstration activities, thereby supporting the Danish goal of a 100% renewable energy system by 2050. The goal is to promote Green Solutions through Green Innovation. Center Denmark is a close collaboration between several Danish universities, companies, organizations and municipalities and will be geographically located in the triangle region of Kolding, Vejle and Fredericia.

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