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Sustainable solutions to the challenges presented by an increasingly networked energy system call for significant change to prevailing mindsets and assumptions around roles and responsibilities. Companies that proactively join forces can create a solid foundation for lasting market success.
Change as an opportunity
To actively shape transformation of the energy system and create value across the ecosystem, different market players have to come together in a spirit of open communication and mutual understanding.
The increased decentralization of key grid building blocks, regulatory changes and the emergence of many new providers are raising market complexity overall and upping the pressure on energy providers and grid operators. At the same time, however, these developments are also creating new opportunities to optimize existing lines of business and leverage new market potential. But the window of opportunity is constantly shrinking. So companies have to be ready and able to find the right answers with speed – and act on them with purpose.
More and more new players are shaking up the energy market. The many prosumers, communities, towns and companies that are deciding to take an active role in energy generation and financially optimize their own consumption are key driving forces here. At the same time, however, existing market structures are being transformed by innovative solutions delivered by a growing number of energy start-ups and new providers from industries beyond this sector. All of these groups are guided by different motives, from environmental protection through economic growth to off-grid self-sufficiency.
Sustainable change can only be achieved if everyone works together. And so it is important that solutions for the future give as many stakeholders as possible the chance to achieve their goals. Cross-company cooperation can also pave the way for innovative new business models. The egrid joint venture between German utility company Allgäuer Überlandwerk GmbH (AÜW) and Siemens is an exciting example of this – from a number of perspectives. On the one hand, this joint venture bundles the shared strengths of a traditional, regional energy provider with those of a global technology powerhouse. And on the other, egrid’s strategic mission is to share the insights gained from the joint IREN2 pilot project with different grid operators and help them intelligently expand their grids for tomorrow’s energy system through innovative consulting concepts.
The energy system will be fundamentally changed by a large number of, generally smaller, market players and aggregators who bring these participants together. In addition, the barriers to entering the market will continue to fall as we move forward.
The successful transformation of energy systems worldwide hinges on close collaboration between experts across organizational, technological and national boundaries. As the energy world becomes increasingly networked and digitalized, the knowledge and experience of many different partners will be a key enabler in the development of innovative solutions capable of meeting rising requirements on both the consumer and grid side. This calls for the open exchange of ideas among stakeholders, but also the courage to forge new paths.
At the same time, these ecosystems must have the right structures in place to enable stakeholders to reach their technological and business goals as efficiently as possible. Given the crucial importance of security of supply and cost efficiency, energy providers and grid operators have an important role to play in shaping this collaboration. A growing number of pilot projects and initiatives are bringing together a wide range of different stakeholders. This is a clear sign that these kinds of networks are important drivers of change.
Siemens is currently working with three leading universities, two institutes at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and all four German transmission system operators on the DynaGridCenter project. This project aims to develop an innovative control center for the entire transmission system, capable of dynamically measuring and managing all load flows. To do this, the system analyzes a huge number of parameters and data sources, and provides grid operators with concrete, real-time recommendations on how to optimize grid management.
Changes across our energy ecosystem are increasing complexity as more and different hardware components, technologies, software solutions and players are added to the mix. And all of these elements have to dovetail to perfection to ensure networks can continue to be managed securely and quickly. In addition to this, new solutions have to integrate seamlessly into the existing infrastructure. As such, standards, open interfaces and, above all, platforms play a crucial role in ensuring that energy systems remain adaptable to changing dynamics and evolving customer needs.
The increased digitalization and automation of grids creates the perfect environment for effectively connecting all levels of an energy system – from operational control right through to business processes. This is exactly what Siemens’ MindSphere technology and software platform is designed to do. This cloud-based, open operating system connects the physical with the digital world. By aggregating and analyzing information from a vast array of data sources, it allows customers to increase performance and efficiency across their entire company. Building on close collaboration with partners and solution developers, MindSphere also offers an extensive range of powerful applications and digital services that can be tailored to the individual requirements and strategic goals of users. All of which creates a solid foundation for new, data-driven business models that enable customers to drive change in the energy ecosystem and capitalize on it.
I’m very excited to be part of a forward-looking project that can answer important questions of energy security. The results of the grid testing help to reduce the costs for network expansion by 40 percent. On a nationwide scale in a country the size of Germany, this sums up to several billion Euros.
Actively restructuring the energy market calls for agility – with support from Siemens products and solutions. Some reference projects are listed below.
Power management in smart buildings and solutions for intelligent low-voltage distribution
12 transformer stations with 23 transformers of different types
Recording and analysis of Big Data using urban data centers
New business model prepares NB Power for the future
NB Power has an expanded range of products and services for power customers, such as consumption overviews and smart thermostats
Road map for smart grid development based on the Siemens Compass method
The Grand Unified Scheme (GUS) combines battery storage, extended voltage control, demand response, and thermal load calculation in real-time and in a closed-loop process, for optimum network operation
Less voltage fluctuations which could occur as a result of renewable energy sources due to integration
Optimal network management and cost reduction thanks to fast implementation
Reduced operating costs to supply the campus
Larger proportion of renewable sources
Microgrid is used to research future technologies
Operation of the microgrids as an independent island network – disconnected from the main grid and using renewable sources
Stable and economical operation of the microgrid and the creation and handover of system services for the superimposed network
Five times more energy than the community itself consumes, in grid-connected operation
Soft- and hardware solutions from Siemens support our customers on their way to higher security of grid operations. The common goal: future-proof systems enable short reaction times, smooth operation, and reliability.
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 of action. Use the following links to explore the three others.