The New Structure of Energy Market
The energy market is changing rapidly. Just a few years ago, major energy companies such as RWE in Germany and EDF in France had almost unrestricted power in the markets. But with the triumph of renewables worldwide, there is a transformation taking place: From a centralized, hierarchical, supplier-centric energy infrastructure to decentralized, customer-centric and participatory energy models. People are taking energy supply into their own hands, be it with photovoltaics systems, battery storage in the home or by participating in larger energy cooperative projects. In 2012, 47% of the installed capacity was in the hands of communities and individuals. Only 12% was invested by the conventional energy utilities. And as a German study revealed, projects that were partially or fully owned by local investors generated some 5.4 billion Euros and created a total of about 100,000 jobs in 2012 in both the construction sector and operation.
While the supposedly established conventional power plants have to contend with increasing costs and longer construction times for new structures, the cost curve for renewables is heading in only one direction – down. Energy markets based on renewable sources are cheaper because prices for solar and wind technologies drop when demand rises. As we could see over the past years, the learning curve of the technologies pushes costs down dramatically. According to studies, battery prices are expected to drop by around 75% by the year 2025. Integrated in the electricity market and intelligently optimized, these storage systems are not only able to convert the energy supply in the home to almost 100% renewable energy but are also optimal facilitators of the ‘Energiewende‘ – the German energy transition – as a whole. Integrated in a swarm, the storage systems can pitch in when wind and sun create either too much or too little energy.
IT in demand
The creator of this new modular, distributed, bottom-up, open, knowledge based, consumer centric energy system will therefore rather be Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and innovators, who understand the power of digitalization and connectivity and can provide intelligent, smart and innovative solutions. Unlike the times of conventional power plants, today those with the most IT know-how will win the race. It’s not even a question anymore that renewables will win out over fossil and nuclear power plants. But how can renewable energy be integrated in the system to guarantee a secure supply and network stability?
Strong in the ʻSchwarm®ʼ
LichtBlick, the energy and IT company, has developed the ‘SchwarmDirigent®,’ an IT platform for energy management. ‘SchwarmDirigent®’ links distributed systems such as CHP units, photovoltaics systems, and mobile as well as stationary storage. As an smart ʻSchwarm®ʼ they can respond to the needs of the energy markets and guarantee supply from 100% renewable energy. LichtBlick also offers the IT platform internationally and allows customers to manage their own decentralized systems intelligently in the ‘Schwarm®’ and optimize them according to their individual needs. The energy platform allows them to sell energy to energy markets, provide network services or even optimize their own energy consumption.
We are still just at the beginning – tremendous potential lies ahead for renewables worldwide – not just in Europe, the US and Australia but also in developing countries or regions that are not yet connected to the energy grid. They can make an enormous contribution to the new energy world.
Find out more about LichtBlick’s international activities at: www.lichtblick.com