The Secrets of Successful Smart Energy Approaches
Why this report?
The transition to a smart and green energy future is a highly complex and multi-faceted development. It is being driven by a number of different factors, such as the
The result is a very timely report that reveals where the smart energy transition may be headed and which approaches may be the most promising. It contains 15 in-depth interviews and feature articles with some of the brightest thinkers in the field.
Table of Contents
Policy Overview - part One: The Drivers, the Changes, the Chances
On the basis of extensive talks with a wide range of stakeholders in Brussels, EER correspondents Sonja van Renssen and Hughes Belin put together a not-to-be-missed overview of where smart energy is (and is not) going in Europe - as seen from the policymakers' point of view.
Interview: Jessica Stromback, Smart Energy Demand Coalition
Jessica Stromback, who has been involved in the smart energy transition from the start as Executive Director of the Smart Energy Demand Coalition, sounds an optimistic note in this interview. She believes the smart energy drive has turned a corner. In particular, she notes that the new EU energy efficiency directive and the network codes that are under development will give the market a boost.
Interview: Christine Hertzog, the Smart Grid Dictionary
Long-time Silicon Valley consultant and smart grid expert Christine Hertzog notes that unlike commercial consumers, households do not yet see much added value from smart meters and other energy innovations. Nevertheless, she is convinced that the advent of the smart grid heralds a "paradigm shift" in the market that enables "a number of game-changing innovations".
Project: PowerMatching City
PowerMatching City, a project in the Dutch village of Hoogkerk, may be the world's first real-life intelligent energy network that can serve as a model for the smart city of the future. The first phase of the project has been successful: suppliers, consumers and the network operator interacted smoothly in an automatically functioning virtual market that benefited all participants. The second phase of the project will focus on social rather than technological innovation.
Policy Overview - part Two: The Issues, the Snags, the Solutions
Continuing their smart sojourn through Brussels, Hughes Belin and Sonja van Renssen discovered there is broad agreement on many smart energy issues, but there are also important topics that still need to be worked out, notably the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders in the value chain, and data protection and privacy.
Interview: Bastian Fischer, Oracle
Bastian Fischer, vice president industry strategy at Oracle Utilities, and a recognised expert on smart energy, says smart meters and grids "are entering the phase of adoption". Technologically there is nothing holding the industry back, he says. The challenge is how to make the technology work economically.
Interview: Nandini Basuthakur, Opower
Can utilities make money by selling less energy? An American start-up, Opower, has managed to create a successful model that helps utility companies make their customers become more energy efficient by making use of basic behavioural insights. Nandini Basuthakur, Senior Vice-President of Opower explains.
Project: EcoGrid EU
Two thousand households on the Danish island of Bornholm are expected to show how Europe can manage over 50% of wind power and other fluctuating renewable sources. The idea is to get them to adjust their consumption patterns through market-based mechanisms - but without asking their active participation.
Report: Japan catches up to smart energy
Before Fukushima, Japanese electricity companies were downright disdainful of smart meters and grids. Now this has completely changed. The government has designated renewable energy, smart grids and smart cities as growth priorities. It wants to have 80% of all power consumption run through smart meters in five years' time. A large new market is opening up for overseas suppliers. EER correspondent Rudolf ten Hoedt reports from Tokyo.
Eye-opener: Japan presents first "digital grid router"
Professor Rikya Abe of the University of Tokyo and several supporting companies, including NEC and Hitachi, present the very first Digital Grid Router. At the size of a small suitcase, this router is an essential tool of the "Digital Grid" that according to Abe has the potential to revolutionize the grid as we have known it for over 100 years.
Interview: Stephen Woodhouse, Pöyry Consulting
Can smart energy live up to its promise? Stephen Woodhouse, Director at Pöyry Management Consulting and foremost expert on smart energy, cautions that "the theoretical potential of smart energy is much greater than what we will actually realise". The consumers can't and won't do it by themselves, and the business case for most of the facilitators is not very clear. That means we will need "ambitious targets and an ambitious regulatory regime" to make smart energy happening, he contends.
Project: Progetto Isernia
Enel's Progetto Isernia is one of an increasing number of projects that are taking a 360-degree approach to studying smart grid solutions. "In Isernia we have concentrated all of the technologies that we plan to deploy at the national level in the future", says Paola Petroni, head of Network Technologies at the Enel Group. Report from Italy by EER Italian correspondent Heather O'Brian.
Report: The case of the Netherlands
It is all very well for policymakers and companies to presume that they can roll out smart meters on a grand scale, but there is still strong opposition to various aspects of the smart energy programme from consumer groups and privacy watchdogs. Experience in the Netherlands provides a classic example of how NOT to introduce smart meters. But the Dutch are determined to get it right the second time. Energy journalist Jorinde Schrijver reports.
Interview: Australian researcher Yolande Strengers
Electricity is regarded by consumers as a limitless commodity. This has to change if we are to put our electricity supply system on a sustainable footing, says Yolande Strengers, an Australian researcher who has studied smart metering demand management programs in the energy and water sectors. Smart meters can help, but they are not a silver bullet.
Report: Europe in the grip of smart energy
Milan-based journalist James Osborne takes a smart ride across Europe and discovers that projects are multiplying across the Continent. Still, he also finds that long-term success is by no means guaranteed. New regulatory frameworks are needed to provide investment incentives. And new players need to be brought into the market: Google-type companies that can get consumers to start having fun with their energy consumption.
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