Digitalisation and energy storage as drivers for solar

11/30/17, 11:01 AM -

SolarPower Europe and the International Alliance Battery & Energy Storage (IBESA) are hosting the „Digital Solar & Storage” conference, 4-5 December 2017 in Munich. SMA, Solarwatt and Sonnen are strategic partners. Jochen Schneider, Executive Vice President Energy Services at SMA is discussing trends, opportunities and barriers.

Jochen Schneider, Executive Vice President Energy Services at SMA is one of the panelists at "Digital Solar & Storage" conference in Munich 4-5 December 2017.
Jochen Schneider, Executive Vice President Energy Services at SMA is one of the panelists at "Digital Solar & Storage" conference in Munich 4-5 December 2017.

What are the impacts of digitalisation and storage on solar energy markets?

Digitalisation and energy storage will further accelerate the decentralisation of energy supply and be among the main drivers for the exponential growth of solar PV in the coming years. As solar PV becomes the most cost-efficient energy source around the world, storage and digitalisation will make solar and other renewable energy controllable and available at all times and allow more renewables to be integrated into the grid.

Are there already new business models evolving?

Yes, we will see new innovative business models emerge over the next few years across the entire energy sector in particular in the context of the energy prosumers and the fact that they become connected. These will include fully automated energy management across all sectors and segments on a local level and peer-to-peer models to e.g. sell excess solar energy. Another new revenue source for renewables combined with storage will be to provide frequency response, voltage control and reactive power services in smart grids.

Are there still some regulatory barriers?

There are indeed still a number of challenges to overcome in the regulatory field as the existing regulations were to a large extent created for the centralized energy industry model. The policy makers must urgently clear these barriers in areas such as the peer-to-peer electricity trade, the implementation of new, innovative technologies and business models in order that Europe can take on a pioneering role in digitalising the electricity supply.

How can solar storage and digitalisation make consumers lives easier?

Through new platforms, consumers will be able to get connected, participate in and profit from the digital energy system of the future. Fully automated energy management will make it possible for them to jointly use and sell their self-produced energy efficiently, allowing them to save on energy costs in an easy, efficient and cost-effective way. For example, SMA has developed an open technological platform for all segments - residential, commercial and utility - that facilitates connectivity and 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, the next step will be to 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.

What are the technological challenges for solar, storage and digitalisation in a long term perspective?

As the energy supply becomes more and more decentralized and renewable, the requirements for system technology and software are increasing significantly. The mission is to connect all market participants and bring supply and demand together via the Internet in order to make optimum use of the energy generated locally and provide for a sustainable, secure and cost-effective energy supply. Comprehensive knowledge spanning across all energy sectors as well as 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 digitalisation of solar and other energy.

Interviewed by Hans-Christoph Neidlein

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Download the report Digitalisation and Solar here

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