Power to the people: IT meets energy tech.
Recently, consumer-to-grid technology and consultancy are a burgeoning hub of activity in the US and Europe. Big information and communication technology companies, utilities and knowledge firms are developing advanced applications, tools and methods that are changing the way we use energy and connect with utilities.
For a quick peek into the convergence of energy technology (ET) and IT, here is a sampling of thoughts and quotes gathered from around the industry and KEMA:
Foundation on Economic Trends – “The way forward has to be decentralized, harnessing distributed sources and services though modern ICT, in a ‘flatter’ peer-to-peer world. Smart grids have to facilitate the distributed world. There is a parallel with the internet: the ‘intergrid’. The model I see for a sustainable future can be described as distributed capitalism: entrepreneurialism across millions of players. I foresee a move from hard energy to soft energy; a collaborative world that requires open-source systems. It’s a re-globalization from the bottom up. The big question is whether will we make the changes fast enough.” – Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, statement during the KEMA conference ‘Change the world of energy’ on October 15, 2009
KEMA’s vision on consumer-to-grid – “We need new communication links, dispersed intelligence and automation, and establishing a new customer value chain. We need more features utilizing data and information, interacting with end customers, utilizing power electronics, smart metering, new materials and energy storage. How can you engage millions of stakeholders – that’s the real challenge. It might be best to start by engaging communities; upcoming transition towns and eco-towns with a commitment to doing thing differently.” – John Scott, Director Network Innovation at KEMA, in KEMA Global Contact March 2009
Prediction Market Survey – Prominent clients of KEMA from the energy sector are very explicit in the role end users play in the transition towards decentralized generation. As the outcome of a prediction market survey, held during the KEMA conference ‘Changing the world of energy’, more than 50 percent think end users will be the main players in decentralized generation in 2020. This percentage moves up to 88 percent in 2050. The government has to set the rules to enable and make it easier for consumers to adapt the new technologies.
“The emphasis on end users is interesting to see. They are key to doing the job apparently.” — Erik Lysen of Utrecht University, chairman of the conference session concludes on October 15, 2009
Cisco Smart Grid Ecosystem – Cisco has developed an Internet Protocol (IP)-based Smart Grid communications infrastructure designed to help utility companies and their customers optimize energy supply and demand, improve smart grid security and reliability, and reduce operational costs.
“Cisco is making important strides toward enabling an end-to-end, highly secure Smart Grid communications infrastructure that will help utilities, business and consumers better manage and reduce energy consumption.” – Marthin de Beer, senior vice president, Cisco Emerging Technologies Group in a September 17, 2009 company press release
Google PowerMeter – Tapping into the data between utility smart meters and in-home energy management devices, the PowerMeter free electricity usage monitoring tool provides users visualized information on how much energy their home is consuming via the user’s personalized Google homepage (iGoogle).
“At Google, we believe that the smart grid is as much about defining new ways to generate and exchange useful information as it is about finding smarter ways to deliver and use energy.” – statement from a public proceeding filed with the California Public Utility Commission by Google Inc. on October 26, 2009
Microsoft Hohm – Hohm is an online application that helps consumers better understand their energy usage and provides personalized energy-saving recommendations to help save on energy costs. Microsoft is also partnering with utilities to develop an opt-in system for consumers to automatically upload their personal energy use data directly into their Hohm account.
“We believe technology will play a pivotal role in tackling the global energy issues we currently face. Microsoft Hohm demonstrates how a combination of advanced software and Internet-based services can help people track, understand and manage their personal energy usage.” – Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer, Microsoft in a June 24, 2009 company press release
Microsoft SERA – The Smart Energy Reference Architecture provides utilities a method of testing the alignment of information technology with their business processes to create an integrated utility.
“SERA represents our continuing commitment to our utility industry customers and our holistic vision of how the smart grid fits into the much larger energy ecosystem that’s evolving daily.” – Larry Cochrane,
Worldwide Utilities Industry technology strategist/architect, Microsoft in an October 13, 2009 company press release
Smart grid implementationPowerMatching City – PowerMatching City is one of the three demonstration projects of the European Integral Project. It’s a full scale real life smart grid implementation consisting of 30 households provided with sustainable energy sources like PV, wind turbines, micro cogeneration, heat pumps, smart appliances and electric vehicles. Generation and demand are balanced by the PowerMatcher software and connected to the control system of a trading floor of a Dutch utility.
“The power supply is guaranteed at the lowest cost at all times. In this way households are contributing to the energy transition process, reducing energy demand and CO2 emissions. A personal internet portal gives them insight in their energy costs. Later on they will be stimulated to make choices on their comfort level.” – Frits Bliek, project manager at KEMA, November 3, 2009.
Glendale Water & Power Smart Grid implementation – The City of Glendale, California’s utility GWP will be replacing its electric meters, serving over 100,000 customers, with smart meters enabled with two-way communications to communicate over a secure wireless network. The new ‘smart’ metering infrastructure and data management system will support a Home Area Network. Customers will have Internet-accessible portals to view their electric and water usage. KEMA is helping GWP with the implementation.
“This is a transformational effort that is redefining the way utilities interact with their customers, improve operations and leverage detailed service point information within the organization. Ultimately, the GWP Smart Grid Project will connect customers to the grid in new, more dynamic ways. When fully implemented in 2011, customers will be better enabled to make sustainable energy use choices and manage their utility costs – all while supporting a more reliable distribution system and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” – Rob Wilhite, senior vice president, KEMA, Inc. in an October 21, 2009 press release