Digital networking of a de-centralised energy facility
6. October 2017
Digitisation opens the door for utility suppliers to new opportunities to expand and design their business model sustainably and more efficiently: customer loyalty, grid control, price optimisation are only some of the buzz words. But how can one optimally combine those very diverse parameters? It was for solving this question that our client consulted us to manage the technical product development.
The aim was to make energy “touchable”. To this end, we were asked to develop a product that regulates electricity and heat, measures generation and consumption in consumers’ households and also is able to produce prognoses with the help of which energy demand could be adjusted. These prognoses are based on a variety of external data – the occupant’s schedules, weather forecasts for hours of sunshine, wind force, shade and much more.
The complexity and variety of interfaces and their coordination was a particular challenge. In Germany, no two houses have the same general conditions for their energy system – and reliable prognoses and models must, in principle, be designed for all eventualities, sometimes down to the individual data point of a heating system. Today “smart meters” are the norm and this product development which takes into consideration heat and electricity, consumption metering and generating forecasts is a trend-setting innovation and a milestone for energy transparency.
Before the first device was installed in a household, we had already undertaken a good deal of coordination. In the run-up to installation literally all possible scenarios were considered, thought through and applied. We contacted a whole range of producers (heating, photovoltaic, control technology), controlled the development of all involved interfaces, and guided the service providers who took on the programming. Only thanks to agile development, we kept to schedule including structuring and accompanying all tests in an external laboratory.
Now our client has the “Box” available, a digital device, which offers our client’s customers a clear added value. Consumption of electricity and heating is measured transparently and allows for precise forecasts. An online-portal or an App on a smartphone or tablet controls the installation. Thus, a new and exciting “user experience” is possible so that the abstract themes of saving and generating energy have a brand new quality of experience.
The energy provider gets access to new data end-users’ energy generation and consumption which clears the way to a virtual power plant: If a number of customers use this installation, the energy supplier can more activly manage the feed-in of electricity. This leads to a stable supply, grid security and are also economically interesting: A win-win situation for all participants.