Elec­tric mobil­i­ty will not scale with­out dig­i­tiz­ing ener­gy systems


The Smart Meter roll­out can be more than just a chal­lenge for the Ger­man ener­gy indus­try. Tim Ulbricht, Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of Kiwigrid from Dres­den, sees oppor­tu­ni­ties par­tic­u­lar­ly in the field of electromobility.

The roll­out of smart meter­ing sys­tems final­ly her­alds the dig­i­tal and decen­tral­ized era of the Ger­man ener­gy indus­try. But instead of just work­ing through the para­graphs of the meter­ing point oper­a­tion act, ener­gy util­i­ties should con­sid­er the roll­out as an oppor­tu­ni­ty for a full dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion. As the heart of the smart meter­ing sys­tem, the Smart Meter Gate­way is much more than just a gate­keep­er for meter­ing data. It is a dig­i­tal plat­form in the customer’s build­ing. It is the inter­face to the pow­er grid and the engine that dri­ves the con­ver­gence of heat and mobil­i­ty. As with a smart­phone, the added val­ue is in the soft­ware and not in the hard­ware. The gate­way enables all the play­ers in the ener­gy indus­try to achieve unprece­dent­ed added value.

The trans­port sec­tor is one of the largest ener­gy con­sumers in Ger­many and could be elec­tri­fied with elec­tric­i­ty from renew­able ener­gies in many areas. Car man­u­fac­tur­ers and ener­gy sup­pli­ers are still strug­gling with buy­ers for accep­tance of e‑mobility. How­ev­er, a PWC study assumes a mar­ket share for elec­tric cars of 30 per­cent in 2030. As a result, invest­ments in the expan­sion of the charg­ing infra­struc­ture will increase con­sid­er­ably over the next few years. Most of the major ener­gy sup­pli­ers already offer charg­ing infra­struc­ture solu­tions for com­mer­cial EV fleets.

The deploy­ment of the charg­ing infra­struc­ture opens up oppor­tu­ni­ties for fur­ther busi­ness mod­els. For exam­ple, spe­cial tar­iffs for com­mer­cial e‑mobility are con­ceiv­able if they charge their com­pa­ny fleets dur­ing off-peak peri­ods. Uti­liz­ing elec­tric mobil­i­ty as a con­trol­lable load would also be an option. Elec­tric cars would then take up sur­plus elec­tric­i­ty from the grid or feed it into the grid in case of con­ges­tion. This would not only guar­an­tee secu­ri­ty of ener­gy sup­ply, but also sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce the eco­nom­ic costs for grid expan­sion at the low-volt­age level.

Par­a­digm shift in ener­gy retail

The con­ver­gence of mobil­i­ty and elec­tric­i­ty will thus bring about a major par­a­digm shift. Tomorrow’s cus­tomers will ask for ser­vices that effec­tive­ly com­bine mobil­i­ty, elec­tric­i­ty and ener­gy effi­cien­cy into one sys­tem. And which can con­tribute to mak­ing the ener­gy sys­tem more flex­i­ble with­out com­pro­mis­ing com­fort. As a result, more and more cus­tomers see pure ener­gy sup­ply only as part of the whole. In par­tic­u­lar, the mar­ket role of ener­gy retail is thus chang­ing from a com­mod­i­ty sup­pli­er to a sys­tem ser­vice provider. It also sug­gests that soon­er or lat­er car man­u­fac­tur­ers will start offer­ing their elec­tric cars in pack­ages with the right charg­ing solu­tion, includ­ing an elec­tric­i­ty con­tract with flat rate and the nec­es­sary Smart Meter Gateway.

Smart meter­ing sys­tems — an oppor­tu­ni­ty for utilities

The pre­req­ui­site for all these new busi­ness mod­els is data com­mu­ni­ca­tion and charg­ing con­trol via a scal­able, high­ly secure and stan­dard­ized infra­struc­ture — a task that Smart Meter Gate­ways will take on as the core com­po­nent of the smart meter­ing sys­tem. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly the impor­tant in the low-volt­age grid, where well over 90 per­cent of all renew­ables are con­nect­ed and large parts of the charg­ing infra­struc­ture for elec­tric mobil­i­ty will be con­nect­ed in the future. For all these rea­sons, it is clear that elec­tric mobil­i­ty will not scale in the long term with­out con­sis­tent dig­i­ti­za­tion of ener­gy sys­tems, includ­ing a large-scale smart meter gate­way infrastructure.

Orig­i­nal pub­lished in the Han­dels­blatt edi­tion from 05.02.2018 “Energie — Das Ende der Wende?”

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