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Brandenburg University Enters Renewable Energy Education & Research with a Flexible Hybrid RE System, Cottbus

Client Request: Expand Power Generation  

Education & Research into Renewable Energy Systems

BTU Cottbus approached Heliocentris with the goal of expanding their Power Generation Programs to include extensive teaching and research in the area of Renewable Energies.  The Chair of Power Plant Technolo-gy saw great demand for the integration of renewable energy systems into their programs and set a primary focus on power generation and the optimization of grid-tied renewable energy systems.  They wanted to couple their extensive knowledge of traditional energy systems based on coal and biomass, with renewable energy systems to create better and more efficient energy systems. This was to be achieved by providing students hands-on experience with a complex renewable energy laboratory.

The university realized the need for a project partner that could deliver a high quality custom renewable energy system for both teaching and research at all levels of study. BTU Cottbus selected Heliocentris as a project partner becau-se they had confidence we could meet the following requirements:

- Advanced expertise with various types of renewable energy technologies

- Experience developing industrial grade systems that are applied for teaching, training and research

- Specific expertise with hydrogen, fuel cells and energy management

Field Components (outdoor)

- Photovoltaic systems (stationary and tracking)

- Solar thermal plant

- Small wind turbines (rotor-DELA)

- Weather Station 

Laboratory Components (indoor)

- H2 system with electrolyser and fuel cell

 - Energy storage and electrical load

- Measurement and control module with visualization on PC

- Fuel cell / electrolyser for teaching

- Model wind turbine

The Heliocentris Solution

Heliocentris developed a customized technical solution based on the main components of our New Energy Power Supply (NEPS). The standard NEPS platform was appropriate for this custom system as it allowed us to meet BTU Cottbus expectations of having both an industrial and didactic plat-form. 

The NEPS is a real-world hybrid renewable energy system with 4 kW peak output achieved by combining PV and Wind power. The system is integrated with batteries, hydrogen storage, fuel cells and a smart energy manage-ment platform for training and research.  Energy from the renewable energy inputs can be used to supply the island grid or fed to grid.   This allows universities and research institutes to investigate the inputs under the re-striction of an island grid system and a grid tied system. 

When energy is not being consumed by loads connected to the system, it will store excess energy in two ways: short-term storage in batteries or long-term storage through hydrogen production. If there is an energy short-fall, the system converts the stored hydrogen into electricity by the use of the 1.2 kW fuel cell system.  In order to ensure the system operates with maximum efficiency the smart energy management platform allows for op-timal system design.

For research purposes, the web-based user software collects data from over 60 data measuring points and allows for logging and exporting of data.  Long-term scenario analysis on energy generation, storage and manage-ment can be conducted.  

In addition to the modified NEPS system, BTU Cottbus also uses hands-on training equipment from Heliocentris:

- Instructor

- Professional

- Dr. FuelCell Model Car

- Dr. FuelCell Science Kit

Client Involvement

On a project such as this, the client is involved in the entire process, from the initiation of the system design, to final installation, training and com-missioning. Important to this project was clearly defining the customization pieces to the NEPS system, such as individual workstations, fixed and tracked solar, prototype wind generator and solar thermal.  

Technology Used

The key to the technology used in this solution was the mix of various types of renewable energy combined with hybrid energy storage and grid connec-tion. The combination of the technologies, such as, Wind and PV or Hydro-gen and Batteries allows BTU Cottbus to test the system under various con-ditions, with different system components and at various times of the year.

Customization Notes

BTU Cottbus had an interest in customizing the system to meet their goals of studying various types of solar panels, various mounting technologies (fixed vs tracked), solar thermal systems and a custom wind turbine design.  Customized systems are:


- Multiple Panel Types

-  2 Mounting  Systems – Fixed & Tracked

-  Integrated Software for analysis & comparison

-  Separate PV Tracker, environmental data collector and measurement box

Solar Thermal Test Station

- Various solar collectors in a closed system – including valves and pumps

Wind Turbine

-  designed of DETHLOFF & LANGE GMBH, Neubukow, Germany

Multiple Workstations

-  Wind, PV, Fuel Cell


-  Smart Meter Connection to the electrical grid


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