Who’s Who: Maximilian Irlbeck

Who’s Who: Maximilian Irlbeck

  • 10:56AM Mar 24, 2020
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I am convinced that digitization plays a key role in achieving climate goals around the world. An increasingly decentralized energy system needs digital technology to continue to function safely and economically.

This time, we interviewed Maximilian Irlbeck in our monthly ‘Who’s who’ series. Max is leading EASY-RES Work Package 7 and strives to advance digitalization and renewables in the energy sector.

Max, what is your personal and professional background? What are your interests?

Hey EASY-RES community – I’m Maximilian Irlbeck, 37 years old, computer scientist and leader of the energy department at the Center Digitalization.Bavaria (ZD.B), a government owned agency. Our mission is to prepare the Bavarian economy for the digital transformation. As a native Bavarian (I was born in Munich), I naturally fully support this mission!

A big part of my job is to develop new ideas on how to advance the energy sector in terms of climate change and energy system transformation through digitalization. To this end, my team and I have built up initiatives and a large network of over 2,000 actors in Bavaria, Germany and Europe. EASY-RES is a key project for us. Our goal is that Europe can deal with up to 100% renewables.

In my free time I love to cook, to read, to ride my bike through the Bavarian nature, enjoy cultural events, but also to end the day at home with good music, a glass of wine and with a beautiful sunset on the balcony.

How did you get involved with EASY-RES and what are your responsibilities within the project?

I had contact with Hermann de Meer, a professor from the University of Passau (now working on EASY-RES Work Package 4). He called me and informed me that a consortium for a new EU project was being formed and that they were still looking for someone to take on the task of dissemination. Since the project fits perfectly into our tasks as ZD.B, I wrote the application and was very happy when we received the approval of the EU Commission that EASY-RES can start!

My role in the project is to lead Work Package 7 together with Andrea Deisenrieder. This work package is about making the results of EASY-RES known to key stakeholders and a wider public, properly marketing the project’s messages and ensuring that the project is networked with interesting actors outside the project. This is great fun, because we really do have a big task ahead of us in the project, which – I am sure – will be very important in a few years.

At ZD.B you are pushing the topic ‘Digitalization in the Energy Sector’: Can you tell us more about that mission?

I am convinced that digitization plays a key role in achieving climate goals around the world. An increasingly decentralized energy system needs digital technology to continue to function safely and economically.

To do this, we need new knowledge and new skills, especially in the cross section between electrical engineering, energy management and information technology, but also new networks, new framework conditions and – of course – new markets and technologies, such as those we are exploring in EASY-RES.

The objectives of our activities at ZD.B are primarily focused on Bavaria. This includes the transfer of competence in digital key technologies (including blockchain, smart data, intelligent quarters), shaping the regional energy future, strengthening digital innovations in the energy sector and creating sustainable framework conditions and networked ecosystems across industries and sectors so that the digital energy shift can be made a success.

I am particularly proud that we as a team of just four people have already achieved so much in four years. We have launched a start-up competition in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, launched an initiative in Europe for a new regulation of digitization in the energy sector (the “European Energy Lab 2030") and presented our ideas to the European Commission, supported numerous innovative projects and launched a host of regional and supra-regional initiatives.

Relating to this, why is EASY-RES important for the work you are doing at ZD.B? 

EASY-RES is researching the necessary basics, which we will soon need all over the world. The climate crisis will continue to progress and our only way out will be a massive expansion of renewable energies.

The system responsibility that renewable energy plants have to take on is currently largely non-existent, as the energy system is still dominated by large generators with rotating masses.

But this will change. Exactly at that point in time, the research results of EASY-RES are essential to ensure security of supply even with a high share of renewable energies. I am spreading this message wherever I am, because I think it is very important – because most people discussing the energy revolution do not even have this problem on their screens. Afterwards, I am always happy to explain the role that digitization will play in this.

What motivates you for the work you are doing?

It motivates me to make a contribution so that we can continue to have a functioning ecosystem on a planet that is not too hot.

The task is admittedly a big one. But I believe that through commitment, passion, competence, agility and innovation, we can succeed in limiting global warming and creating a sustainable energy system.

Many people around the globe are currently staying and working from home in order to curb the spread of the Corona virus. What will be the first thing you will do after the lockdown is over in Bavaria?

Then, I will sit down in a nice beer garden in Munich under old chestnut trees and order a nice Mass (1 liter beer mug in Bavaria) to celebrate the day.

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