March 12, 2018
Big Data and Flexibility Management in the Smart City
Current approaches for the Smart City are much more in line with science fiction than administrative tasks of public urban development. The balance between what is technologically feasible and socially usefulis like a balancing act, and strategies for future-proof implementation are not easy to identify.
The following explanations will attempt to identify the challenges of current scenarios in the context of energy and thus derive concrete sustainable approaches.
How does energy get into the Smart City?
The energy dimension plays a central role in the Smart City framework. There are three central aspects that pose massive challenges to those in charge and have a noticeable impact on meaningful implementation measures at present:
– Distributed responsibilities in an interdependent solution space
– Shortened technology cycles meet long-term task definitions
– Processes of public administration
Platform strategies as a central solution element
The solution to these challenges focusses on a central element that almost all stakeholders and suppliers pursue: a technological platform strategy. Interdependent, complex processes and heterogeneous, distributed, very large amounts of data cannot be processed in silos, but only with connected platforms. They will be three-dimensional images of our cities, depicting data and information flows in them. They will contain artificial intelligence modelsfor making scenario decisions and thus provide us with the central instrument we need to master the networked complexity of a Smart City. Such system platforms are already available and in use today in their basic technological components. Thus, they form the foundation for the future digital Smart City.
The urban energy portal – the basis for the Smart City platform?
CO2 balances, climate protection plans, as well as analyses of energy-efficient building refurbishment and e-mobility have been a reality in most cities for some time. More and more digital platforms are currently being used, but mostly stillin analogue mode. Large technology suppliers such as Siemens, IBM, SAP or GE are working on comprehensive software solutions. But especially thematically focused, young companies such as Kiwigrid, BEN Energy, IBAR or enersis now have a noticeable number of productive installations in their fields of business.
Utilities and DSOs are also increasingly offering portals for cities that no longer document asupplier relationship only but also pursue open, expandable approaches. Recent developments include the digital market entries of Digikoo (Innogy) and greenited (Eon). If you continue to think about these market trends, these solutions can easily and sensibly serve as a basis for further Smart City disciplines.
Example flexibility—not without big, big data and platform approach
Another very central challenge of current energy transitiondiscussions is the future management of flexibility. However, these approaches are nowadays frequently based on a silo concept (grid load management orsmart home e-mobility) and therefore fall short of the mark. A functioning, intelligent flexibility system is highly complex and interdependent.
Apart from the assumption that the physical solution to the problem of electricity storage is achieved faster than the development of software-supported flexibility management systems in terms of the technological development cycle, far more comprehensive approaches than previously pursued are necessary for the latter technologically – and thus in terms of costs – than previously pursued. It is also still not verified whether the physical expansion of the distribution grid could be the more cost-effective alternative after all.
Too long – did not read: recommendation for action
In summary, the following recommendations for action result from the above presented developments and theses: The multitude of participants and distributed responsibilities as well as the extent of the Smart City challenges require an IT platform approach. The given technological speed, combined with dynamic and thus uncertain target scenarios, recommends focusing on data integration and data management instead of a pure digitalizationof processes and functions.
As the processing of future energy systems has already progressed within the context, solutions of digital energy platforms have a good starting point for developing into comprehensive Smart City platforms and becoming respectful central components of them. Systemically highly complex nuts to crack, such as those for the creation of IT planning and control systems for flexibility mechanisms, should continue to be considered in the context of physical solution alternatives (storage, gridexpansion, sectorcoupling).