Bavaria: What next for "electricity guzzlers" in research centers?

There are almost a dozen extremely energy-intensive research institutions in Germany.

Bavaria: What next for "electricity guzzlers" in research centers?

There are almost a dozen extremely energy-intensive research institutions in Germany. Two of them are located near Munich. You need an enormous amount of electricity - and for very different reasons you can save very little of it. But sometimes coincidence helps.

Garching (dpa/lby) - The energy crisis is also causing the energy-intensive research institutions in Bavaria to take a critical look at their enormous power consumption. Where else could you save something? Turning down the heating in the offices is hardly significant given the enormous quantities. Simply switching off the systems temporarily is not a solution for either the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics or the Leibniz data center.

"In the current situation, we have calculated several scenarios and found that in theory, for example, we could reduce the power consumption by reducing the clock frequency of the processors," explained Dieter Kranzlmüller, head of the Leibniz data center, to the German Press Agency. "In reality, however, this means that the individual applications calculate longer on the supercomputer and in the end even consume more power."

For this reason, no further power-saving measures are planned at this high-performance data center of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, which is one of the largest data centers in Europe. However, Kranzlmüller emphasized that work has been going on for a long time to improve the energy efficiency of the power-hungry systems, for example by using hot water cooling or by optimizing the building infrastructure.

The Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP), which is also located in Garching near Munich, is helped by chance, at least in one large-scale experiment being conducted in Bavaria: "Since "ASDEX Upgrade" will be converted over the next two years, the energy requirements for it will fall there Plant gone in large areas - but of course not for the Garching site itself," explained a spokesman on request.

In addition, the institute operates the "Wendelstein 7-X" experiment in Greifswald, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, which cannot be switched to an "economy mode" because all components are needed at full power to generate the plasma. The spokesman explained that the experimentation time cannot be shortened in a meaningful way either: As a rule, only three to five months per year are available for experiments anyway. "Wendelstein 7-X" needs three months with almost full energy consumption just to start up and shut down.

During the rest of the year, the plant will be shut down for maintenance and expansion work. After the resumption of operations this summer, the institute expects electricity requirements of 18 to 20 gigawatt hours in 2023 and 2024. If there are supply bottlenecks, it has been agreed with the network operator that work and experiment times, for example, will be rescheduled so that they fall at times of the day that consume less energy. Kranzlmüller also emphasized: "Of course we have emergency plans in place and are prepared should there be a reduction in the available electricity or blackouts."

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