Logo of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt
Into the Future with Metrology - The Challenges of Energy

The Challenges of Energy

Metrology for renewable energies

Wind power and solar energy are the cornerstones of the energy transition. PTB’s task is to support German industry in these fields with joint research projects and services. However, modern conventional gas and steam power plants will also play an important role in Germany’s energy supply, at least in a transitional period. Here, too, PTB’s measurement expertise – especially in the fields of pressure, volume flow and temperature measurement – will contribute to increasing the efficiency of these power plants and thus to reducing CO2 emissions.

PTB’s competence: wind energy

The large coordinate measuring machine enables the metrological traceability of large components (5 m × 4 m × 2 m measuring volume) for the first time.

According to the German federal government’s plans, 50 percent of the electrical energy required is to come from wind turbines in 2050. The technical requirements for powerful, high wind turbines with large rotor diameters are enormous, and the need for calibrations to operate the turbines reliably is great. Therefore, PTB has set up its Competence Center for Wind Energy. This center has a metrological infrastructure that is unique worldwide. PTB is thus the first national metrology institute that can offer reliable and comprehensive quality assurance to the wind energy industry. Our know-how comprises, among other things:

  • A large coordinate measuring machine for the metrological traceability of large components (5 m × 4 m × 2 m measuring volume) such as gear components with the highest precision.
  • The world’s largest standard measuring facility for torques of up to 5 MNm, with the prospect of extending this facility to up to 20 MNm in the long term.
  • State-of-the-art LIDAR (light detection and ranging) sensor techniques for wind potential analyses, including a wind tunnel for the calibration and precise determination of LIDAR systems.
  • The development of a method to predict disturbances that arise from wind turbines and have an influence on facilities of air traffic control for flight safety. This method has been an official standard since June 2020 and is now part of the approval procedures.

In addition, PTB and its European partners are, for the first time, developing guidelines which will make it possible to test the efficiency of wind turbines on a standardized basis.

PTB’s competence: photovoltaics

The LED-based sun simulator is equipped with 16,320 high-power LEDs which are available in 18 different, individually controllable colors.

By 2035, the share of photovoltaics (PV) could account for about 20 percent of the total electricity generated in Germany. To achieve this target, up to 100 billion euros would have to be invested in Germany. It must be remembered that every percent of measurement uncertainty in the efficiency of solar modules leads directly to a financial uncertainty of one billion euros. PTB has therefore set up the Competence Center for PV Metrology. This center offers a unique infrastructure of laboratory and free-field calibration procedures with the lowest measurement uncertainties worldwide. PTB is the only national metrology institute in Europe that is able to establish primary traceability of the measurement results for reference solar cells. About 50 percent of all systems installed worldwide are already traceable to PTB today.

Since 2019, the measurement infrastructure which is also needed to offer comprehensive calibrations for solar modules has been established at PTB. Such calibrations include the parameters that are necessary for a comprehensive, energy-based assessment of solar modules with regard to all influence quantities that are relevant to their output. Thereby, PTB’s focus is on the quantities which are difficult to determine, i.e.: the performance under standard test conditions; the angle dependence; the dependence on the spectrum; and the dependence of the solar module temperature on wind velocity. Among other facilities, an LED-based sun simulator is the most important facility of the Competence Center. With this tool, the behavior of solar modules with a size of up to 2 m × 1 m can be simulated under various irradiation conditions found in the environment. This means that the standard annual output of solar modules (according to the Energy Rating Standard series IEC 61853) can now be determined.