Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Siemens’ Robert Klaffus reveals how the internet of energy is coming

A decentralised, two-flow energy grid enabled by blockchain signals the onset of the internet of energy, explains Siemens’ vice-president of Digital Grid Systems Robert Klaffus.

The future of the energy grid is decentralised and of course decarbonised. Say hello to the internet of energy.

For Robert Klaffus Siemens’ vice-president of Digital Grid Systems, the important building blocks are being assembled gradually, including blockchain.

We need a decentralised and then a digitalised energy system because at the end of the day it is about having a future on this planet for our next generation

It starts with a vision of a largely de-carbonised energy system in a near-to-all-electric world.

The internet of energy is intertwined with the future of life on our planet

Klaffus said that if we want our future generations to have a livable planet, at least similar to what we experienced growing up, then we to act quickly and decisively.

He points to a future where smart management of loading patterns from residential areas underpinned by the digital substations of the future and an energy system more decentralised and powered by renewable generation like photovoltaic and wind.

In effect the substations of the future will need to do their part in managing complex power flows while ensuring maximum reliability.

At the heart of this is digitalisation which will enable the management of complex, decentralised grids and energy systems, the internet of things, and innovative applications and new business models for operators to stay agile.

So what does the agile future of energy look like? “To a large degree it is about a decarbonised energy system and in order to get there we need a decentralised and then a digitalised energy system because at the end of the day it is about having a future on this planet for our next generation.

“In order to get there it will need to be decentralised because all of the renewable energy sources will be integrated into the grid at a distribution level and to manage a complex grid we need to have digitisation.”

In terms of the role digital transformation will play, Klaffus believes we need to move away from the model of a single flow of energy from operator to consumer to a dual-flow system where energy can actually be traded back to the grid.

“Digitalisation will be the enabler. From our point of view this is a decentralised world. The energy system is more complex with distributed energy sources, multidirectional powerflow, and not the typical historical uni direction of flow to a central large load but dispersed generation, dispersed consumption. This will only be possible with technology to handle such a complex grid.

But will blockchain play a part in the decentralised future of energy? “We are looking at this. We have a pilot project running in Brooklyn, a Brooklyn microgrid project, where it is about peer-to-peer interaction and we see that this can be a building block for further into the future but an important building block of such a decentralised, digitalised system.”

Klaffus concluded that the relationship between energy providers and the businesses and consumers they serve will ultimately be revolutionised by this internet of energy.

“We believe in the long run that there will still be energy providers and more central entities that will do aggregation and grid balancing and so on, but I would say that it would be more on an eye to eye level where consumer will talk to an energy provider because this technology will enable blockchain and other technologies to do things in a reliable manner and not rely on an energy or a power provider.

It will make things more interesting but efficient for both sides,” Klaffus said.

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