Digital Solar & Storage – The Future Smart Energy System | Dr. Jürgen Reinert, CTO and COO, and Jochen Schneider, EVP Energy Services, SMA Solar Technology AG
Source: EES International
Digitalization and energy storage will further accelerate the decentralization of energy supply and be among the main drivers for the continued growth of solar PV in the coming years. As solar PV becomes the most cost-efficient energy source around the world, storage and digitalization allow for increased controllability and availability, which will facilitate the grid integration of solar and other renewable energy. As this happens, entirely new opportunities and business models will arise across the entire energy sector as well as for energy prosumers. On the 4-5 December 2017, some of the leading players in the solar, storage, and digital industries will gather in Munich for SolarPower Europe and the International Battery & Energy Storage Alliance (IBESA)’s event “Digital Solar & Storage” to discuss how these trends will shape the future of energy.
With digitalization leading the way towards smart renewable energy applications, we are entering a new era in energy supply. Market structures will change dramatically in a short period of time. The traditional business model, in which centralized units produce and sell energy to customers directly or via intermediaries, is being replaced by brand-new platforms in this new era. These platforms connect market actors, offer direct communication and trading between producers, consumers and other stakeholders. The mission is to bring supply and demand together via digitalization to make optimum use of the energy generated locally. We will see new innovative business models emerge over the next few years, including fully automated energy management across all sectors and segments on a local level and peer-to-peer models for prosumers to sell excess solar energy. Adding in innovative storage solutions to the mix, we will be able to provide frequency response, voltage control and reactive power services in smart grids.
Deep understanding of all energy sectors and the needs of prosumers will be key to managing the future smart energy system
In order to participate and profit from this new energy system, households and commercial enterprises will need strong partners that make it possible for them to use and sell their self-produced energy efficiently, allowing them to save on energy costs in an easy, efficient and cost-effective way. Comprehensive knowledge spanning across all energy sectors, vast experience in renewables system technology and grid management are vital in order to manage this complex new energy supply system. This knowledge needs to be combined with an in-depth understanding of prosumer’s needs, including security of supply, ease-of-use, and economic feasibility. Leading companies from different industries will join forces to develop solutions that guarantee a secure and affordable energy supply, making it possible for all parties to take advantage of the new opportunities arising from the decentralization and digitalization of solar and other energy.
Technologically advanced and innovative companies like SMA Solar Technology can help catalyze this revolution through their longstanding experience and insight into the industry. We have developed an open technological platform for all segments – residential, commercial and utility – that facilitates the monitoring of energy flows across all sectors. This includes photovoltaics and other power sources as well as heating, cooling, ventilation and stationary and mobile storage systems. Through an intelligent energy management solution, optimize total energy costs at the local level and integrate our customers into the energy market. In the future, together with our strategic partners from other segments, we will develop these holistic digital solutions further, which will play a significant role in shaping the future energy system.
Regulatory hurdles need to be overcome
While the potential of digital and solar is great, there are still some challenges to overcome on the way towards a fully digitalized energy supply – especially in the field of regulation. This is why SMA has taken on the leadership of SolarPower Europe’s Digitalization and Solar Task Force. In establishing the task force at the end of 2016, SolarPower Europe has put digitalization at the top of its agenda and the agenda of EU policy makers. So far, the working group has published several deliverables to accelerate the digitalization of our energy system. The “Seven Commitments on Digitalisation”, containing self-imposed obligations of the PV industry to catalyze digitalization, were launched at Intersolar Europe back in May. The ten “Regulatory Asks”, handed over to policy makers at the end of June 2017, outline what is necessary for the EU to do for the digital transformation of the energy system to drive forward the energy transition. The task force has also published the “Digitalisation & Solar Report” at the European Utility Week in Amsterdam at the beginning of October 2017. It is considered the first in-depth analysis in the world of the opportunities and possibilities for solar through its digitalization. Over the next weeks, many activities are planned to further push digital solar in the right direction. Webinars discussing the digitalization trend and meetings with policy makers in Brussels to present to them the new study and “Regulatory Asks” will all help to contribute to the rapid expansion of digital solar. Most importantly, the first “Digital Solar & Storage” event organized by SolarPower Europe and IBESA will be held in the BMW Welt Exhibition Center in Munich on 5 December 2017, with SMA as strategic partner. This first event of its kind will unite the key stakeholders in solar, energy storage and digitalization from Europe to establish a cross-sectoral platform in areas that will shape the power, heat & transport sectors to shape the future of energy.
Digitalization will accelerate the transition towards a decentralized energy supply based on flexible renewable energy plus storage – turning conventional energy supply structures completely on their head. The traditional business models of traditional electric utility companies will soon be replaced by decentralized production and storage units that will smartly connect producers, consumers, and the energy grid via new digital platforms provided by technologically advanced companies. These new structures will be able to provide for a sustainable, secure and cost-effective energy supply. Decentralized energy producers and consumers can benefit from these completely new business models – it is now on the European policy makers to create a regulatory framework that will make it possible for this new energy supply system to evolve and thrive.
Dr. Jürgen Reinert
CTO and COO,
SMA Solar Technology AG
EVP Energy Services,
SMA Solar Technology AG