deen
deen

In search of the ener­gy industry’s killer app: Kiwigrid presents two poten­tial can­di­dates

The roll­out of smart meter­ing sys­tems (iMSys) is about to start. The tasks lie before us: com­pa­nies with an annu­al con­sump­tion of over 10,000 kilo­watt-hours will be equipped with intel­li­gent mea­sure­ment sys­tems. In addi­tion, oper­a­tors of decen­tral­ized sys­tems of 7 kW and above will receive an iMSys.

The installers are begin­ning the major task of installing the required equip­ment at the rough­ly 2.3 mil­lion meter­ing points over the next few years. The data is flow­ing through cer­ti­fied gate­ways to the grid oper­a­tors. As a result the grids are more sta­ble and the dis­trib­uted gen­er­a­tion is inte­grat­ed into the mar­ket. The result: the ener­gy world is dig­i­tal.

Mak­ing impres­sions with added val­ue

The sense that this is not entire­ly straight­for­ward may well have got around. After all, the ben­e­fits of the dig­i­tal ener­gy tran­si­tion must also be felt by the cus­tomer. He must be con­vinced of the oppor­tu­ni­ties pro­vid­ed by smart sys­tems. The coun­ter­ar­gu­ments, such as that cus­tomers with so called “reg­is­tered capac­i­ty meter­ing (RLM)” are already upload­ing their con­sump­tion and capac­i­ty fig­ures to the meter­ing points every 15 min­utes and send­ing these to their grid oper­a­tor, need to be refut­ed. We have to keep in mind that the oper­a­tors of dis­trib­uted gen­er­a­tion plants regard iMSys as a bur­den­some oblig­a­tion. There have been reports in parts of the media point­ing to ben­e­fits that are enforced.

Dig­i­ti­za­tion must offer these cus­tomers added val­ue if the poten­tials of iMSys are to be exploit­ed in their busi­ness­es. This is the task of the meter­ing point oper­a­tors and ener­gy sup­pli­ers: to con­vert poten­tials into added val­ue, to bun­dle them into appli­ca­tions and to offer them as ser­vices. Their task, then, is no less than that of find­ing the ‘killer app’ of the dig­i­tal ener­gy tran­si­tion.

The killer app of the dig­i­tal ener­gy tran­si­tion is not one sin­gle appli­ca­tion. It con­sists of IoT-based ener­gy ser­vices that bun­dle mul­ti­ple soft­ware, hard­ware and ser­vice com­po­nents in a sin­gle pack­age.

Find­ing ener­gy leaks dig­i­tal­ly

We can approach the ‘killer app’ for ener­gy con­sumers with an anal­o­gy. Locat­ing ‘leaks’ is an estab­lished ser­vice offered by many com­pressed air util­i­ty com­pa­nies. Is it also pos­si­ble to locate ‘ener­gy leaks’ — exces­sive or faulty con­sump­tion — among plants by dig­i­tal means? Is it pos­si­ble to deter­mine which plants are con­sum­ing how much and in some cas­es too much, and when? Is it pos­si­ble to depict ener­gy flows and con­sump­tion to a res­o­lu­tion of indi­vid­ual sys­tems in real time? The answers to these ques­tions also answer the ques­tion of added val­ue for cus­tomers over and against their data gath­er­ing for a sup­ply point at 15-minute inter­vals.

Kiwigrid’s part­ner inno­gy asked what the chal­lenges are that are faced by ener­gy and pro­duc­tion man­agers of small and medi­um-sized enter­pris­es (SMEs). The answers are not alto­geth­er sur­pris­ing. There is a lack in these enter­pris­es of trans­paren­cy, capa­bil­i­ty and knowl­edge for per­form­ing an analy­sis of ener­gy flows. At the same time, oper­a­tions in SMEs can­not be inter­rupt­ed. Third­ly, a point that should not be neglect­ed: SMEs have only lim­it­ed bud­gets.

The response from inno­gy to its cus­tomers is called bit.B: an inex­pen­sive tech­nol­o­gy that is avail­able imme­di­ate­ly and that offers cus­tomers trans­paren­cy with real-time data and can be inte­grat­ed with­out inter­rupt­ing oper­a­tions. The lack of know-how in the com­pa­ny is replaced by a sim­ple piece of soft­ware with straight­for­ward instal­la­tion process­es. Ener­gy con­sump­tion fig­ures, vis­i­tor num­bers, tem­per­a­tures and more — bit.B can opti­mize oper­a­tions and reduce ener­gy costs.

bit.B is a radio-based tech­nol­o­gy that gath­ers and ana­lyzes data and there­by reveals oppor­tu­ni­ties for mak­ing sav­ings in the com­pa­ny. Sen­sors detect ener­gy, ambi­ent and pro­duc­tion val­ues, for exam­ple at a pow­er meter, at a light bar­ri­er, on a par­tic­u­lar machine or with­in a sub-dis­tri­b­u­tion unit. SME employ­ees can access all the mea­sure­ment data at any time via the bit.B online mon­i­tor.

Kiwigrid’s plat­form thus acts as the scal­able back­bone. It is planned that KiwiOS will be inte­grat­ed into the sys­tem. This would enable the con­nect­ed ener­gy devices and sys­tems to be con­trolled, for exam­ple to enable peak load man­age­ment.

Fur­ther infor­ma­tion is avail­able at www.bitb.innogy.com

Gov­ern­ment author­i­ties are hun­gry for infor­ma­tion

Oper­a­tors of dis­trib­uted pow­er plants — often a SME with a solar sys­tem on the roof or a com­bined heat and pow­er sys­tem in the cel­lar — face dif­fer­ent chal­lenges. It should in fact be pos­si­ble sim­ply to pur­chase a dis­trib­uted gen­er­a­tion sys­tem, con­nect it and to use the ener­gy one­self or feed it into the grid — with­out hav­ing to be con­cerned with oth­er mat­ters.

Yet at best this plug-and-play approach only works in a tech­ni­cal sense. For the oper­a­tor, dis­trib­uted gen­er­a­tion involves bureau­cra­cy — that is, out­lay. This cor­re­sponds to the data hunger of the report­ing sys­tem required by law. Data has to be con­stant­ly gath­ered, aggre­gat­ed and sent to a wide range of recip­i­ents. The unan­swered ques­tions begin from the data gath­er­ing and aggre­ga­tion stages: is the data cor­rect? is it com­plete? More ques­tions arise at the trans­mis­sion stage: who receives which data? This ties up employ­ees, who are also required to per­form monot­o­nous work on a con­tin­u­al basis.

con­nect enlight makes report­ing sys­tems ’sexy’

Here again, the require­ments to be placed on an intel­li­gent dig­i­tal appli­ca­tion loom large. To depict monot­o­nous, repet­i­tive process­es and to free up employ­ees to per­form more valu­able tasks. To cre­ate auto­mat­ed reports with only a few clicks and to ensure end-to-end con­nec­tiv­i­ty from the meter to the report, free of errors. ‘con­nect enlight’ is a report­ing plat­form for dis­trib­uted gen­er­a­tion plants. Users can select from a wide range of report forms, for exam­ple, claims for reim­burse­ment for ener­gy and pow­er tax­es, and have these cre­at­ed entire­ly auto­mat­i­cal­ly. To enable this, the gas con­sump­tion and the elec­tric­i­ty and heat gen­er­a­tion of the plant are read remote­ly and processed auto­mat­i­cal­ly.

The idea for con­nect enlight was con­ceived at envia Therm, which itself oper­ates over 120 dis­trib­uted plants and which used this solu­tion to do away with much of its own bureau­crat­ic out­lay. envia THERM devel­oped the prod­uct on the basis of its own expe­ri­ence and imple­ment­ed it in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Kiwigrid.

Fur­ther infor­ma­tion is avail­able at www.connect-enlight.de

Pick­ing the low-hang­ing fruits

Ener­gy dis­tri­b­u­tion is chang­ing along with cus­tomer needs. The two exam­ples men­tioned rep­re­sent the oft-cit­ed ‘low-hang­ing fruits’. Pick­ing this ‘fruit’ opens the doors for ener­gy com­pa­nies to take fur­ther steps and make addi­tion­al offers. The tra­di­tion­al com­mod­i­ty trans­ac­tion is no longer suf­fi­cient for win­ning and retain­ing cus­tomers. Cus­tomers want solu­tions that enable them to work eco­nom­i­cal­ly and effi­cient­ly with the com­modi­ties. Ener­gy sup­pli­ers and also meter­ing point oper­a­tors will have to offer such solu­tions in future if they are to remain com­pet­i­tive. No ener­gy sup­pli­er will suc­ceed sin­gle-hand­ed­ly in scal­ing com­plex ener­gy ser­vices of this type. Strate­gic part­ners can be found in the hard­ware, soft­ware and IoT fields as well as in project plan­ning and installation/implementation. Kiwigrid is such a part­ner and its IoT plat­form and part­ner net­work cov­ers all lev­els of val­ue cre­ation for the new ener­gy ser­vices.