The dawn of the Internet of Energy

On October 4, just before the energy community gathered for the second day of the European Utility Week in Amsterdam, IDC Energy Insights chaired a breakfast briefing organised by geo. geo co-founder Patrick Caiger-Smith, alongside IDC Energy Insights VP Roberta Bigliani, kicked off the session by presenting the findings of a new study produced for geo — The Internet of Energy: Enabling Residential Demand Management . The event was crowded and the briefing stirred lively conversation around the opportunities ahead for the Internet of Energy (IoE) ecosystem and the “active home.”

There was general agreement that the stakeholders need to self-organise around an IoE ecosystem that can work as a bridge to the energy transition. On one hand, by connecting distributed energy resources (EVs, residential battery storage, and rooftop solar PV), IoE will strengthen the resiliency of the entire electricity system. On the other hand, active homes can simplify consumers’ lives by automating energy and comfort management, while offering shorter payback on their IoE-related investments.

Here are some of the key points that emerged during the breakfast briefing:

  • Will the IoE be exclusively for the wealthy? It was argued that only a fraction of consumers currently has access to the capital needed to invest in an active home. While that may be true, there is a chance for policymakers to become first movers in the mass market for intelligent energy devices and appliances by favoring investment in the social housing segment. This would have multiple benefits, including raising property value, contributing to national energy efficiency targets, and educating people about energy usage. Ultimately it would increase market numbers by tens of thousands of units, thus steepening scale and learning effects.
  • Regulation (e.g., local flexibility and capacity markets) and generally accepted market standards should be sought for IoE to flourish on fertile ground. This, however, doesn’t mean the ecosystem should wait on the regulator to lead the way. On the contrary, as is often the case in mass market technology, it is consumer interest that will drive the market out of the early adopter phase.
  • A corollary to this is that products must have a degree of visual attractiveness and user friendliness if they are to win over an early majority of consumers. Even now, a lot of attention is given to the visual appeal of IoE devices. There are home energy monitors that sit beautifully on your kitchen counter, smart thermostats that interact with your Amazon Echo, and battery storage systems designed not for the garage but for the living room (in case you don’t have a garage).
  • When homes become active participants, trading flexibility and capacity locally, remains an open question. In particular, whether or not homes will participate directly or through aggregators or ESCOs, and whether DSOs will be allowed to have an active role is a hotly debated topic. The IoE and the active home are an invaluable data opportunity, not only for energy efficiency but also for grid management and customer engagement.

As shown in the breakfast briefing, there are still many questions about the Internet of Energy, and the IoE ecosystem will play a major role in answering many of these. One thing is certain — the IoE will only reach its potential if industry players can collaborate effectively to eliminate hurdles for customers. If the ecosystem unites, then it is estimated that the IoE will be able to deliver 102GW of residential demand-side flexibility in Europe by 2025 (Source).