Looking back at Cologne International Energy Summer School 2019

Looking back at Cologne International Energy Summer School 2019
July 29, 2019 |

For one week, young scientists from all over the world discussed energy economics and digitisation. In the subsequent PASS workshop, they presented their own papers. The winners of PowerTAC have also been announced.

29 July 2019 | After five intensive days, the Cologne International Energy Summer School (CIESS) ended last Friday. The EWI and the IS3 Chair of the University of Cologne had invited advanced Master students and PhD students to Cologne. 23 young researchers from different disciplines from all over the world participated, including participants from India, Turkey, Iceland, France and Italy. They spent a week discussing energy and environmental economic issues – considered with the tools of digitization.

”The energy transition is complex, urgent and extremely broad in scope. We need scientists with deep knowledge as well as interdisciplinary skills both now and over the next decades”, said Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ketter, director of EWI and initiator of #CIESS19. “Our summer school and PASS participants came from a diverse background, ranging from economics to computer science to engineering – we had a wonderful, challenging, high energy week. We’re putting the smart into smart grids!”

The first topic was the fundamental challenges of energy systems on the way to renewable energies. Prof. Srinivasan Keshav (University of Waterloo, Canada) focused on smart grids, solar energy and storage. Demand Response methods were also discussed in detail. His point of view: It will be important to decouple supply and demand of electricity and to increase flexibility in the future.

Keshav also outlined the fundamentals of blockchain technology. This could be of use in different fields of application. These include the creation of markets (peer-to-peer trading), market-based instruments (trading with green electricity or CO2 certificates) and overall auditing, i.e. creating transparency and trust.

Plenty of opportunity to network

In addition, Gayathri Prakash (IRENA) presented a global roadmap for 2050. With Prof. Haldun Aytug (Warrington College of Business, University of Florida, USA), the participants immersed themselves intensively in the topic of machine learning, in particular so-called reinforcement learning. What does this mean? An agent learns about environmental influences, carries out an action and learns behaviour through reward over time. This principle is used by self-learning brokers who are programmed as part of PowerTAC as well.

In addition to the content discussions, the participants made intensive use of the opportunity for networking and personal exchange. This was not only possible during the breaks, but also on an excursion to Germany’s largest open pit lignite mine, Garzweiler.

PASS workshop and winner of PowerTAC

On Thursday evening, the Summer School melted into the “Workshop on Policy, Awareness, Sustainability and Systems” (PASS). Here, the young scientists had the opportunity to present their own research and receive feedback. Among them were not only the participants of the Summer School, but another 30 young researchers. The topics were broad and ranged from smart mobility to renewable energy systems, recycling economies and behavioural research to demand flexibility.

In addition, some participants presented their contributions to PowerTAC. PowerTAC is an open source platform that simulates highly complex current and future electricity markets. On the platform, self-learning trading agents (“brokers”) compete against each other. It was set up by EWI Director Wolfgang Ketter and John Collins (University of Minnesota, USA).

This year Grigorios Christainas, Lampros Makrodimitris and Andreas Symeonidis (University of Thessaloniki, Greece) were awarded for the best model. Congratulations!