Conclusions from Sustainable Energy Week 2016: " We need to change our relationship with energy"

Conclusions from Sustainable Energy Week


Introductory remarks

The most important European conference dedicated to sustainable energy policy issues took place in Brussels on 14-16 June and looked at the way we produce and consume energy.

The opening speeches had strong political messages addressing the change that needs to happen in Europe:

Dominique Ristori (Director General, European Commission Directorate General for Energy): “We will develop all efforts to adapt the regulatory framework having in mind the consumer. And of course, we will use also the new technologies facilitating this shift.”

Miguel Arias Canete (Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action): “We need to change the relationship we have with energy (…). We cannot afford to waste energy any more than we can afford to waste food and water”

Theresa Griffin (Member of the European Parliament): “Energy is the one thing that we have taken for granted.”

The changes in the energy system were very well underlined by Theresa Griffin: “So many aspects of our energy system are changing: incredible growth of renewables and storage, digitalisation of our economies, enabling the development of smart homes, smart meters and demand-side management.”

The smart technologies were identified by Miguel Arias Canete as the way forward in empowering consumers and facilitating the change in their behaviour: “Automation of demand response must develop as a market instrument to allow consumers to tweak and optimize their energy use throughout the day. In order to enable that, we are working towards driving consumer access to fit-for-purpose smart systems. And that is why we will support the ongoing roll-out of smart meters throughout Europe as well as new technologies like the Internet of Things, connected devices.”

ESMIG input in Policy Conference Sessions

“Can societal benefits of smart meters be realised?”

Willem Strabbing, ESMIG Managing Director, explained in a short presentation at the Speakers’ Corner what a smart meter is and why it will be installed. He pointed to the website, developed by ESMIG and EDSO, for consumer-friendly information focused on the real benefits of smart meters and smart grids.

He underlined that smart meters not only communicate consumption data, but their long-term role is to enable additional services to the consumers. For this to happen, all necessary functionalities must be in place, most notably detailed consumption information (3-10 seconds) and tariff information must be provided. This is how demand will become flexible and the consumers will have price signals to optimize their consumption patterns.

“Designing flexible energy markets to empower consumers”

The session organised by the European Commission sought responses from the main energy actors on the question: What are the main issues that the Commission should bring on the table in the new regulatory package and how can these be implemented?”

John Harris, ESMIG Vice-President, focused on consumer empowerment, smart homes and networks and data management. The first step to achieve consumer empowerment is through the introduction of smart meters, since for the first time they are enabling real-time and clear information to consumers. This is vital for achieving any change in their consumption behaviour. Smart homes and networks enable flexibility and demand response. Once these are in place, services for consumers can be built.

He also addressed the need for incentivising investments in intelligent technologies, so we can build all the infrastructure for flexibility and additional consumer services. Although Europe has the leading smart energy providers in the world, they do not have the necessary market conditions to sell their products in Europe.

“SAREF Standard for buildings for the new electricity market”

In this session, several speakers highlighted the importance of interoperability in the Smart Home and how the SAREF standard can support this interoperability. ESMIG representatives Willem Strabbing (Managing Director) and Patrick Caiger-Smith (Executive Committee member) presented how consumers and smart equipment in their homes receive information from smart meters about energy consumption and / or generation through standardized communications, and the importance of user friendly interfaces.

Currently SAREF covers the data exchange with Smart Appliances in general. It can however serve as a basis for a Demand Side Flexibility data model, when the data to be exchanged with energy service companies (ESCOs) and with the Smart Meter Infrastructure are included. This will boost the interoperability of demand side flexibility applications, so there are no barriers for the consumer when choosing smart appliances, Energy management “apps” and ESCO’s.

Our conclusions

To achieve an Energy Union with citizens at its core, the new energy legislation must address the changes in the energy system and build with them a coherent, inclusive and well-functioning energy market.

The first step is to ensure the right infrastructure is in place (smart meters, networks, technologies) that can enable personalized consumer services and can achieve behavioral change. Secondly, we need to take into consideration consumer profiles and preferences and build solutions that are interoperable and straightforward to select, install and use. Lastly, we need to engage all stakeholders in this transition and ensure that all European consumers have the choice to take control of their energy consumption and become active energy market players.

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