Smart Energy Event – User and Interoperability are the key issues

On 9-11 October 2012, together with colleagues from Loughborough I have attended the exceptional event on smart energy in Amsterdam which includes the smart home, the smart metering and smart grid conferences and exhibitions. Over 6600 smart energy experts attended the event, showing that this is the industry leading meeting place for across the board smart energy professionals. As a whole there was a strong focus on two key areas: (i) industry to steer toward the user “customer” of the smart home and smart metering technologies (i.e. what do users want and need?), and (ii) interoperability of the different systems (devices, sensors, appliances etc.) and the communication protocols used by different manufactures, if this industry to take off. In summary here are few points from some presentation which I have found very interesting to share.

First here is an extract from the opening session: ….Progressive utilities are placing the consumer at the heart of smart grid and are devising transparency in billing and various consumer engagement programmes to build rapport and trust. On the policy and decarbonisation level, electrification of heating and transport is hotly debated; electricity is being generated at household levels; large scale wind and solar farms are pushed by EU to meet its low carbon targets; finally liberalised electricity markets ask for new business models and financing structures. Turning into reality, these trends require utilities to rethink the way they invest in generation, transmission, distribution, trading and sales….

From Toshiba Research Europe Limited, UK, Dr Mahesh Sooriyabandara has presented on understanding effects of technology interventions (ICT, feedback methods etc.) on energy use behaviour. The learning from the 3e-Houses project which is an EU funded smart metering pilot can be an eye opening. They applied theory-based interventions to understand causal determinants of behaviour and behaviour change.

One of the interesting panel sessions which I have attended is entitled: What is the key to unlocking mass market participation in smart homes? What could be a ‘killer app’? This talk explored the experiences of a range of stakeholders each looking at the market from divergent perspectives. We asked what incentives can be offered to induce better engagement levels. Can the Apple phenomenon of slick style combined with smart technology create waves in this market or does it boil down to more pragmatic questions of financial incentives and billing solutions? Who will lead this market in years to come and on what basis? At the end of the session no one knew what the killer app would be.

Empowering the customer to modify energy usage through increased behaviour awareness by the Indesit-Enexis demand side energy management programme in Breda and Zwolle, showed evidence for changed customer behaviour patterns and a tendency for the market moving towards greater interoperability with other household appliances, again user has been demonstrated to be central.
Marco Romero Rodriguez, from Telefonica, discussed M2M technology, a new opportunity for the smart Home services, demonstrated how telcos through the new M2M paradigm have greater opportunities to develop the smart Home, what would be the new architecture elements which will support the Smart Home and finally a new business model introduced by M2M in the Smart Home.

Bert Verlinden from fifthplay, & Eric Duys from Electrabel together with Nuvonet have presented their multi-purpose platform for use by multiple partners, this proves that the industry has to work together and resolve the issues of interoperability. Thus another panel session discussed: What value do standards bring across the value chain and what more can they do to advance the smart home agenda? With the purpose to understand not only what advantages standards operators offer to product development but also how might product development and standards operators work more closely together.

Ethem Eldem, from Turkcell described how to build a commercial partnership in smart security management based on customer focus and trust. Marrying two respective market leaders on a customer care basis, using telco leverage to complement the Pronet business model and using telco customer engagement to incentivise sales of Pronet security units.
Vassilis Seferidis, from Samsung Electronics, UK presented the Smart Devices and their Interoperability in the Smart Home, which aims at developing an ecosystem of smart devices around the home capable of achieving interoperability between different connected devices and delivering and sharing premium content around the home and copyright issues while expanding the “smartness” to other devices.