Smart Grid – Future Intelligent Energy Supply and Consumption
• German American Chambers of Commerce (GACC)
The Smart Grid electricity network and technology has the potential to propel the energy industry forward, offering increased reliability, availability, and efficiency amidst growing 21st century energy demand. Experts from Detecon, SAP, and ThinkECO discussed Smart Grid’s successes, opportunities, and challenges at the German Center for Research and Innovation (GCRI).
In this part of the GCRI-GACC Smart Grid discussion series, which was launched in 2010, Bernt C. Klein, Senior Vice President Americas at Detecon Inc. of the Deutsche Telekom Group, addressed current convergence states between ICT, IT, and energy enterprises. Renewable energy sources, digitalization, and increased market competition force utilities to become more cost-efficient and customer-oriented. Smart Grid technology, such as smart meters and smart homes, therefore provides the unique capacity for utility-user interactivity. While energy suppliers can track power demand rates, consumers can constantly compare prices and sources, and feed their self-generated power back to the grid. Whereas traditional electrical meters log one read per day, new smart meters process energy consumption data in small intervals of less than an hour, resulting in up to five terabytes of data per day for the U.S.
Brian Jones, Senior Principal, Energy & Utilities at SAP, explained how this unprecedented level of data disposability will play a critical role in regulating future energy consumption. With regard to trending renewable energy sources, real-time data processing of weather forecasts, current production, and use statistics enable a sophisticated load balance and outage management. Intelligent energy grids also facilitate accurate predictions and help to regulate electricity consumption at peak times.
Mei Shibata, Chief Strategy Officer at ThinkEco, presented coolNYC, a ConEdison-ThinkEco demand-response program. This cloud-based solution helps customers track their energy use, while cutting down on energy consumption for air-conditioning during peak summer times. During a typical New York City summer, 2.36 room ACs (on average per apartment) account for 7000 MW in energy demand daily. By controlling the customers’ air-conditioning thermostats through mobile devices, such as a smart phone app, ConEdison and ThinkEco successfully reduced the electricity demand by 34%.
In order to guarantee an authentic energy feed, suppliers need to further raise awareness for sustainable energy usage and encourage customers to adjust their consumption. Once energy has been generated, it has to be used, since power cannot yet be stored. The industry is well aware of the major Smart Grid challenges, such as privacy concerns and cyber security. What Mr. Klein called “the new vulnerability of the grid,” is addressed by enhanced data protection and intelligence practices. During blackouts, Smart Grids not only support fast trouble shooting and maintenance, but also contribute to global climate objectives in providing advanced low-carbon technologies.
The event was moderated by Prof. Kurt Becker, Associate Provost for Research and Technology Initiatives at Polytechnic Institute of NYU.