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As the energy system evolves and customer demands rise, new solutions are needed to maintain continuity of supply while unlocking new revenue opportunities. But not every new trend will stick. Grid operators need a clear vision of their own role in the energy system along with the technological and organizational framework needed to realize that vision. The huge data stream generated by increasingly digitalized assets is the perfect innovation driver. The growing number of decentralized assets, such as private solar units and battery storage systems, offers a further window of opportunity.
Tomorrow’s grids will be built on the real-time collection, analysis, evaluation and combination of huge data volumes. Weather forecasts, for example, will be linked with current and historical consumption data to support load optimization across generators, transformers and storage systems. Distribution network operators already have access to many of these data sources thanks to their position in the energy grid.
The Siemens EnergyIP platform is the perfect vehicle to unlock this potential. It collects data from different sources, merges it and converts it into valuable insights which can be used to support grid management decisions thanks to precise predictions. This platform enables dynamic pricing for electricity buyers and reduces peak loads in distribution networks to improve the general energy balance. Spanish energy provider Viesgo, for example, uses EnergyIP to analyze data from approximately 700,000 customers. It builds on this intelligence to develop its future business strategies.
In a project with UK distribution network operator Northern Power Grid, the Siemens Spectrum Power Active Network Management solution was deployed to continuously analyze all available data and simulate future grid statuses in parallel (digital twin model). This enabled the grid to be automatically and flexibly adapted to changing consumption and generation patterns.
Lawrence Orsini, Founder of LO3 Energy
The next step on the road to a digitalized energy system involves leveraging potential beyond the traditional energy business. The market for energy generation and energy management solutions targeted at private and business customers in particular is attracting a lot of new companies. Car manufacturers are entering the energy market on the foot of e-mobility offerings, while software companies are using the smart home trend as a springboard. To secure their competitive position, distribution network operators have to offer their customers individualized services that add value while realizing the full profitability potential of existing, decentralized assets.
Siemens joined forces with German energy company RWE to develop a platform for virtual power plants that is ready for mass-market deployment. The Decentralized Energy Management System from Siemens (DEMS) acts as the brain, controlling a network of decentralized assets spanning everything from generation through consumption to storage. Thanks to its innovative design, the Smartpool platform can handle multiple clients. It is an ideal solution for municipal utility companies and smaller distribution network operators as it extends their reach within the energy market.
Prosumers also rely on expertise and solutions from Siemens. The collaboration between the Siemens incubator next47 and start-up company Caterva shows how innovative technologies can be leveraged to bundle battery storage units in private photovoltaic systems. This creates a swarm, which can then function as reserve capacity for a local grid. The partnership between Siemens and LO3 goes one step further. The aim of this collaboration is to develop the concept of transactive energy through a peer-to-peer trading platform. Harnessing innovative blockchain technology, the partners have developed a pilot project in a street in Brooklyn, New York, that enables neighbors to trade the energy they produce amongst themselves. Combined with a Siemens microgrid control solution, this will pave the way for transparent and efficient trading between many different participating systems while still meeting grid-specific requirements. It will also allow flexibility options to be traded and microgrids to be operated temporarily as stand-alone networks.
Innovation and change should be part of the DNA of every employee in the energy sector. Energy providers and grid operators have to put structures in place that empower them to capitalize quickly on new opportunities with the help of agile development processes. This will allow them to build even more effectively on existing strengths such as a strong reputation as a trusted brand, an in-depth understanding of the energy grid and long-term customer relationships. A clear vision and strategic focus on the future are essential to channel limited resources effectively.
Siemens helps its customers identify and leverage attractive opportunities for the future through its Energy Business Advisory Team and innovative strategic tools such as BizMo™. During a creative innovation workshop with an Italian energy provider, Siemens was thus able to help develop 83 value propositions and four digital business ideas for the low-voltage grid in just one day.
Reaching beyond ideas, however, Siemens adds value in many other ways. For example, it helped the vertically integrated Canadian energy provider NB Power to develop and execute its energy blueprint. The resulting ten-year plan harnesses modern smart grid technologies to position NB Power as the “energy provider of the future”, globally recognized as the benchmark for customer centricity, environmental performance and flexibility. Siemens used its Compass methodology to support NB Power every step of the way – right from the strategy development kick-off. This partnership is inspiring the development of innovative technological solutions for managing decentralized resources, increasing the renewable share of the mix to 40 percent and delivering new customer-oriented energy services. It also fosters innovative forms of collaboration. For instance, Siemens is supporting research projects with regional universities. In addition, the Siemens and NB Power teams were colocated to jointly bring the strategic aspiration to life.
Achieving the necessary agility in the energy sector requires many components to work perfectly together. Siemens offers the right products, solutions and services in a total of four different fields. Use the following links to explore the three others.
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