I was a bit late to the start of the breakout track focused on smart energy solutions, and missed some of the presentation by Cordelia Thielitz of Bosch Energy Storage Solutions group, but I was able to see some of the her case studies for renewable energy usage, such as the use of PV (photovoltaic) combined with scheduling to allow the PV to be used during times of peak prices, reverting to the grid when the cost is lower. Although I think that it is less common in Europe, time-of-use pricing is very common in North America; in Toronto, where I live, the off-peak electricity price for households is only 55% of the peak price, so timing the use of locally-generated energy to avoid the peak can result in a significant cost savings.
The second speaker in this track was Thomas Schäfer of Stromnetz Berlin, which operates the power grid and electricity delivery networks for the city. They are adding technology to improve the performance of the energy grid, starting with adding online measurement of network stations and allowing remote control of these stations, which enables faster switchover in times of power outages so that customers spend less time in the dark. The new technologies also can reduce latency of new connections and service changes, as well as reduce costs, allowing them to remain competitive in a deregulated energy market.
The final speaker in the energy track was Roberto Greening of Bosch SI, showcasing their Virtual Power Plant (VPP) vision that will allow for the monitoring and control of distributed energy providers. Traditionally, the energy grid was made up of a small number of large power plants (fossil fuel/nuclear) that generate an expected amount of electricity onto a common transport and delivery infrastructure. As new plants come online — including sources such as wind power that can be highly variable — the grid needs to get smarter in order to completely understand generation, traffic and consumption. In fact, in Germany, wind and PV sources don’t feed into the high tension transport grid, they feed directly into the distribution network, so the location of the monitoring and measurement needs to change as well. In the last couple of years, things have changed even more: wind and solar increased significantly, nuclear power stations were taking offline, consumers produced their own energy back to the grid, and electricity needed to flow from the distribution network back up to the high tension network for long-range transport. What’s needed is intelligent energy management across this complex, heterogenous network of plants, networks and consumers