In this interview, Professor Corinna Klapproth discusses the ReBoot feasibility study and the
development of a concept for rural areas based primarily on bioenergy and its flexibilisation.
Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Corinna Klapproth and for the last five years I have been a professor at the Faculty
of Supply Engineering, appointed for mathematical modelling and simulation in the fields of
bioengineering, environmental technology and energy technology. I was originally a mathematician
and physicist and have previously worked in a wide variety of simulation fields, including in
biomechanics and the tyre industry.
Professor Corinna Klapproth on her way to her office at the Wolfenbüttel Campus of Ostfalia
Since October 2020, you and other researchers have been working together on the ReBoot project.
Could you tell us what this project is about?
ReBoot is a joint project with my colleagues Professor Thorsten Ahrens, Professor Ekkehard
Boggasch and Professor Henning Zindler from the Faculty of Supply Engineering, as well as a number
of other partners from the region. Our aim is to build a renewable energy supply structure for
rural areas, based on the flexibilisation of bioenergy. At the moment, most bioenergy is generated
around the clock, primarily to cover the base load. This is the quantity of electricity and heat
that is needed constantly over the course of a day. The aim of ReBoot is to try and flexibilise the
production of biogas plants, meaning that only as much or as little energy is generated as is
actually needed. We have chosen a model rural region, where our goal is to establish an energy
supply that is as self-sufficient and renewable as possible.
What is meant by a renewable energy supply, and why is bioenergy so important as a source of
energy for the future?
Renewable energy refers to any energy source that does not consume resources; it refers, above
all, to solar and wind energy, but also to bioenergy. Bioenergy is generated from biomass, usually
wood, plants, organic waste or manure. At the moment, the focus is not so much on bioenergy, since
it is currently produced at a very constant rate, and can really only be used to cover the base
load. However, the amendment or expiry of the Renewable Energies Act also brings about a change in
the conditions affecting biogas plants. To this extent, it makes sense to think about
flexibilisation. For example, our aim in Neuerkerode is to use bioenergy first and foremost to
cover the heat demand of the Neuerkerode Foundation. This demand is seasonal, as far more heat is
needed in winter than in summer.
What are the aims of the study?
Our aim is to develop a concept for rural areas based primarily on bioenergy and its
flexibilisation. This will involve using a simulation model, and to start with, we will consider
what concept would in principle make the most sense, not only from a business perspective but also
from an energy and environmental point of view. We want to place the focus on the areas of heat,
electricity and mobility. The concept will be tested using the example of the Neuerkerode
Foundation, but the idea is for it to be transferable to other rural areas. For now, ReBoot is
conceived as a feasibility study, which means that we are not concerned with practical work just
yet but are mainly conducting analyses. However, we hope to be able to move into the pilot phase
once the concept phase has been concluded.
Graph showing an integrated energy supply model including a bioenergy plant
You chose Neuerkerode as your model region, a village in Lower Saxony, the majority of whose
residents are people with disabilities. What is it that makes Neuerkerode so suitable?
Neuerkerode is set in a rural area. It is a small and self-contained complex that already has
its own, well-functioning energy infrastructure. It is first and foremost a local heating
infrastructure that extends to all the properties in the village. At the moment, the local heating
system is run via a biogas plant located outside the village. The waste heat from this cogeneration
plant is fed into the local heating system. There is also a boiler house in the village which
obtains heat from an external source. This means that our ideas can be easily tied in with the
The heat, electricity and mobility sectors are all interlinked. How do you combine them in this
As far as the Neuerkerode Foundation is concerned, heating is certainly the area for which there
is the greatest demand. As for electricity, we are particularly looking at electromobility. We want
to try and link these areas using a simulation model, in other words, to connect together what in
practice consists of independent elements.
We wish to construct a time-based model that shows us how much energy can be produced in the
course of a day or year while also showing how much energy is consumed. By connecting the various
energy generation and storage systems in the network together virtually (in the form of a smart
grid), we can forecast the energy balance and the economic efficiency of the various concepts.
You have already mentioned electric energy. Does the study also cover electric vehicles?
There are already some electric vehicles in use at the Neuerkerode Foundation, but even though
the number is still very small, it does offer potential for development. In this context, it is
also important to consider the charging infrastructure. It would also make sense for the charging
points to run on bioenergy or solar power and we would need to allow sufficient flexibility in this
respect too. Naturally, these are also subject to daily and weekly fluctuations, since differing
amounts of energy will be required at any given time.
The ReBoot project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture through the Agency
for Renewable Resources (Fachagentur für Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V.). It is initially being
conducted as a feasibility study, in the period October 2020 to April 2022. The other partners
along with Ostfalia University are the Neuerkerode Foundation and Bioenergie Elm.