Disclaimer: This article is published in partnership with Siemens. Siemens is paying for my engagement, not for promotional purpose. Opinions are my own.
Siemens Smart Infrastructure has been holding a conference over two days entitled “the grid edge summit”. However, you can still register here as the event is available for some time to view and explore.
Great insights and knowledge
You certainly should visit their different energy topic areas that offer you a significant range of choices, solutions and advice on Grid Edge topics to give you time to check out some of the #GridEdge tech & solutions.
These topics and solutions are organized under decarbonization and sustainability, distributed energy solutions, the integration of renewable energy resources, mobility charging, and the consulting and financing solutions available to utilize. The main conference event is a series of talks and panels exploring the topics above.
Finally, you can download a range of product specifications and whitepapers around the Grid Edge as you visit.
Siemens Smart Infrastructure is offering many different solutions to achieving this change at the energy grid edge.
I went for the opening session, “the future of grid edge is digital.”
This panel brought together Matthias Rebellius, the CEO of Siemens Smart Infrastructure, with Peter Raftery, the MD of Blackrock’s Renewable Power Group and Jussi Jyrinsalo, the SVP for Grid Services and Planning at Fingrid. The session was nicely moderated by Amanda Kayne, the VP of Wealth Management for the Pictet Group.
Let me give you some of my takeaways from this discussion.
I took a different perspective than usual. The Grid Edge is, of course, about the technology solutions being deployed or the returns being made; it is the eventual engagement with communities and individuals recognizing the growing value of understanding the grid edge and offering different business opportunities.
The Grid Edge is where we are all becoming involved. As a result, our energy systems are being transformed. They move from being highly centralized into a decentralized landscape of options and opportunity for those “receiving energy” at the edge of the energy system to participate and become highly engaged.
“Deliver to our needs” has risen in demand in recent years.
With this energy demand, the management of the energy system has become more complex and less predictable; it needs a digitalization approach to connect it all up and manage multiple needs so we can have energy as we want it and we can gain from choice, options and offering that fit our budget and requirements.
Secondly, we are demanding a clean energy supply. The use of fossil fuels is contributing to rapid global warming, and the switch to sustainable renewables, delivered by solar and wind, has become the catalyst for significant energy management change to raise awareness of our understanding of where our energy is coming from, is it clean, renewable energy or generated with fossil fuels. As a result, the power supply is shifting to meet this decarbonization need.
The awareness of the importance of energy to our daily lives and how we are increasingly becoming dependent on it creates a very different need to manage energy. The final consumer wants a greater say in where what, how and when their energy is managed. Energy is becoming a critical issue where we all need to become engaged to have sustainable energy supplies.
This engagement is happening increasingly at the Grid Edge.
The panel discussions moved across various areas to allow the listener to rapidly understand the complexity of securing a sustainable clean energy supply in a world that needs to be decarbonized. Today we are still reliant on 80% fossil fuel, and we need to transform this into 80% renewables over the coming decades to decarbonize our world rapidly.
The grid edge itself offers a new intelligent way to manage energy; it allows the opportunity to open up the space for new business opportunities, gain returns on energy infrastructure investments, and achieve growing independence of energy creation, sourcing, and self-generation.
The Grid Edge allows us to move from consumers to prosumers.
To get to this point where we can move just from customers to prosumers where we both consume but can self-generate. Prosumers are growing in the energy space as they have business opportunities in self-generating their own power from distributed energy resources. This is most often accomplished through rooftop solar panels and electric vehicles. Gone are the days when electricity consumption was a one-way street.
Today’s electric grid is blurring the lines between power generation and consumption and offering one of the most exciting trends in renewable energy. Emerging smart technologies can change perceptions, move towards decarbonized worlds, drive economic development with new business opportunities, and give more energy choices, spurring even greater competition and innovation in the energy sector.
Transition is going to take time due to the complexity.
As the panellists stressed that of course, any transition of this magnitude couldn’t happen overnight. The more we decentralize to offer choice, achieve sustainability and provide clean energy, the more complexities mount.
Each panel member took their different perspectives to discuss many of these changes and the solutions they saw as helping deliver that momentum.
Consistently the three D’s of decarbonization, decentralization and digitalization were within the solutions discussed. But, equally, the need for self-sustainable clean energy, social engagement and managing energy intelligently was central to undertaking such an energy transition.
Scale has a different meaning at the Grid Edge.
When you are in the different stages of the energy transition, you need to think about scale in really different ways. Scale is not just about building one big power generation plant; it manages power at community and individual levels of understanding.
The buildings we live and work in, how will they become smarter to interact, learn and adapt to demand and the changing conditions, so the energy management is intelligently managed to gain savings, to help reduce present waste or energy loss and have those new efficiencies generate the investments in switching to heat pumps away from fossil boilers or financing mobility charging in the building.
In an environment where choice becomes increasingly important, the customer needs to become the master of managing their decentralized landscapes to reduce energy costs, finance new smarter energy solutions and even be that provider of surplus energy back into the grid.
As our demand for more electricity rises to load our communication devices, appliances, and electric vehicles, the cost of this inevitably rises unless we become involved in our energy management. We need sustainable supplies, asset efficiency, and the required resilience.
Today as the panel so often pointed out, we are in the middle of real energy change.
Energy loads are often at a mismatch of generation and demand. We have peaks to deal with that need smart solutions, and here the panel discussed two exciting areas. The use of storage nearer to the demand need and microgrids. Both give the opportunity of having the autonomous option. These can be localized in a community of connected facilities.
Delivering the power into communities, industrial plants, buildings for the office or home, hospitals or agricultural centers, or providing services lies with the power provider- what we will need a greater matching of central and decentralized generation and consumption demand. Here the intelligent management system kicks in through smart sensors, devices and connected systems.
What will drive the transformation in energy system change will come from how intelligent it is, and digitalization of the energy system becomes essential. To plan and forecast is determined by external forces (changes in weather, wind, sun etc.) and the demands required.
Today in highly central energy generation systems, managing loads is a significant daily occupation. If it does not know where demand comes from, then reserve power needs to be ramped up to meet demands significantly. By achieving a smart grid where the intelligence is provided, you not only can see demand, but you can plan for it. In addition, AI, machine learning, predictive management and modelling can give greater stability to match demand.
To get to an energy system that draws down and moves power, it needs a connected market. The big system providers need to connect across boundaries as well as down to the energy demand source. This gives a strong grid, promotes the electricity market to determine pricing signals. Can this work differently than in the past? Yes, it is the connecting-up through digitalization that can balance system and local levels far more effectively.
Today energy infrastructure and solutions are not seen as our business, but they will increasingly be gaining our attention.
Energy systems are there to provide for our needs but do they? The recognition that energy security is becoming more essential in our lives raises awareness. The choices of how we use energy will be driven by cost, need and availability. We are increasingly going to have a say in these decisions.
The consumer engagement in the years and decades ahead will significantly determine the success of achieving the energy transition away from fossil fuels to renewables through the demand for clean, green energy and the exciting option of different energy participation methods.
The panel consistently pointed out that to achieve a sustainable energy transition, we need regulatory change, we need a consistent flow of innovation, of novel business opportunities. Equally, it warned that we need to recognize that the change will come at a cost. Still, costs can become “digestible” and offset by efficiencies and effective savings on energy consumption. As the final consumer becomes far more aware, informed and educated of what energy can mean in savings, self-dependence and sustainability, it changes the relationship to energy management.
The panel, over the hour’s session, covered such a broad range of engaging topics as they covered digitalized energy systems. E-mobility infrastructure and how energy storage will change how we relate and participate in the energy changes occurring as we move towards a greater dependency on renewables, moving supply and demand closer to where we are.
The challenges, investment, solutions, and opportunities emerging were fascinating to listen to and was a great opening panel that set the scene for the rest of the Siemens Smart Infrastructure Grid Edge Summit.
You can still register here as the event is available for some time to view and explore