Imperatives and incentives in future energy industry at Erasmus Energy Forum

Imperatives and incentives for bringing new energy technologies to market – and the changes in behaviour and government regulation required to encourage their use – were discussed by the business community, academics and politicians at the second annual Erasmus Energy Forum at the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam on Friday 21 June 2013.

The Erasmus Energy Forum was organised by the Erasmus Centre for Future Energy Business, a specialist research centre at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM).

MC Sumit Bose, editor of the online energy industry magazine Energylive News, set the scene by explaining the low carbon energy market faced difficulties not because of opposition to the concept, but because the change to a low carbon future driven by government causes costs to industry that will be borne by consumers. “New technologies will never be commissioned unless business can make money out of it. That’s today’s discussion,” he said.

Award winners 2013

  • Business Award

NomadPower B.V. for the best innovative and sustainable energy concept or business model that contributes to improving people’s lives, business success, and the planet.

  • Science Award

The CrocodileAgent team from the University of Zagreb in Croatia; researchers Jurica Babić, Ivo Buljević, Sinisa Matetic, Tomislav Brisevac and Vedran Podobnik are active in developing solutions for trading and visualisation in future energy markets.

Researchers from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands; Laura Ramírez Elizondo and Matthijs Spaan have developed methods for optimising the energy generation, distribution and consumption across whole districts, including electric vehicles.

Making research accessible to industry

In welcoming the 120 international participants, Professor Steef van de Velde, Dean of RSM described RSM’s role in an arena such as this where research, business and industry came together. He told the audience that RSM has three roles. First, as a top-rated producer of research; and second, as a teaching institute educating and delivering 1,200 master graduates to the job market as future business leaders every year. The third role is the valorisation of research – making it accessible to industry and to society – and it is becoming more important. “How this takes shape depends on our professors. The Erasmus Centre for Future Energy Business has made impressive accomplishments in those three areas in just two years since its inception. This forum is a shining example of the valorisation role by bringing the wider community together,” he said. Prof. Van de Velde encouraged participants in the Forum to listen, engage, discuss and take advantage of the networking opportunities during a full day of presentations, panels and displays of current research.

Uncharted territory

Professor Wolf Ketter, Scientific Director of the Erasmus Centre for Future Energy Business gave an overview of the Centre’s research and results. Overconsumption makes real dialogue and debate between industry, academia and politics necessary, he said. “By 2050, we will need about eight times the resources of one planet Earth. And as we don’t have that, we must change our behaviour.” This is uncharted territory and neither business or industry, nor academia, could do it alone.It’s a ‘tricky business’ to balance the supply and demand of energy from renewable sources. A new and more volatile landscape of renewable energy would need new concepts for balancing demand and supply, and for distribution, storage, and use in smart homes. The mindset of consumers is an additional factor.“I think we’re ready to drive this change, to be open for new discussions and to enter the debate,” he said. But professors, politicians and business people must be involved. One area of research at RSM involved a simulator which modelled a future energy retail market. A total of 20 universities around the world are taking part in the Power TAC Power Trading Agent competition, he said.

Testing the smart grid of the future

Taking up Dr Ketter’s introduction to energy market simulators, Dr John Collins, lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Minnesota, explained they are a tool for testing the control of a smart grid. The Power TAC Trading Agent competition has around 150 simulations running each week, modelling a retail power grid with large-scale and retail suppliers selling energy generated from wind turbines and solar panels. “We model customers, markets, the weather, suppliers, wholesale markets and retail brokers competing on price for customers,” he explained. The simulator is run by RSM via the internet.“It’s not always those that move the most electricity that make the most money,” he observed. This research tool is not a complete model of the real world but it is possible to add plug-in models of extra scenarios – for example electric vehicles (EVs). The Power TAC simulator runs on open-source software, said Dr Collins, and he invited businesses to ‘join the competition and have some fun’. “We’ll help you,” he said. Businesses wanting to find out more about the Power TAC Trading Agent simulator can contact John Collins.

‘Make it visible, and make it fun’

An opening statement from Huib Morelisse, the CEO of power firm Nuon contained a frank admission; he had just officially opened two gas-fired power plants in the Netherlands in the full knowledge that ‘all our assumptions from the planning phases of those two plants are no longer applicable – that’s how fast the energy landscape is changing’.

Changing behaviour is more important for reducing carbon footprints than changing government regulations or introducing new technologies, he said, and described the ‘One Tonne Life’ project run by Vattenfall, the Swedish energy supplier of which Nuon is part, in 2011. It challenged the Swedish Lindell family of four to reduce its carbon footprint from around the European average of 7.3 tonnes of CO2 per person per year to one tonne. The family lived for a year in a purpose-built test house near Stockholm, and the project aroused huge media and public interest.

The result of the project surprised everyone, said Morelisse. As soon as the Lindells moved into their specially designed house, their CO2 emissions reduced drastically. They lived in a specially-adapted house and logged every detail of their day-to-day lives; altering shopping habits, swapping two petrol-engined cars for one electric vehicle, taking shorter long showers, and travelling by train rather than flying. Most CO2 emissions are related to food production, according to Swedish figures. Not eating meat and fish results in the lowest emissions, the vegan lifestyle has a significant impact, and eating seasonally also makes a big difference.

60% reduction in CO2 – and still comfortable

The Lindells achieved a 60 per cent decrease in CO2 emissions down to 1.5 tonnes of CO2 each, and still lived a comfortable life. However, cutting emissions further – down to 80 per cent – became more difficult and the family found its lifestyle was affected.

A third of the Swedish population were aware of the experiment, and a third of those who were aware said they were inspired to make changes to their lifestyles to reduce their CO2 emissions. A fifth of the audience said they had already made a change to their lifestyle as a result of watching the Lindells.

It’s an inspiring example, said Morelisse, especially as the experiment relied only on existing technology.

In the question and answer session, Morelisse agreed that some utility companies face pressure from within to ‘hang on’ to coal-fired energy production, in contrast to others that are helpful and supportive of a new energy market. A clear, long-term and stable framework for moving forward was needed on government and city levels.

A behavioural researcher in the audience asked if there were data or patterns to behavioural change that Nuon could share. Morelisse answered that it was important to make changing behaviour easy and fun. “It’s a low interest product for many people,” he said. As an example, emphasising savings worked to motivate Dutch households. “Make it visible then make it fun,” he said.

E-mobility is a big part of being future-proof

Kerstin Meerwaldt is responsible for the Electric Mobility Framework Strategy at BMW Group. She introduced BMW’s perspectives, concepts and solutions to electric mobility, including features such as eco route calculations and electric charging stations with a video.

“BMW recognises we’re in times of big change,” she said. “We believe we’re in something called iconic change. There’s a co-existence in evolution and revolution,” she explained, showing that the evolution curve is becoming flatter and flatter, but the revolution curve is changing faster.

“BMW recognised the shortage of resources and higher CO2 emissions,” said Meerwaldt, explaining that demand from customers started the company thinking about finding more sustainable solutions for electronic mobility, and ‘Project i’ was born in 2007. The Dow Jones index has ranked the BMW Group as the world‘s most sustainable premium automobile manufacturer every year since 2005.

Meerwaldt said that BMW did extensive research and tested e-mobility by installing batteries in 600 minis worldwide. BMW also explored the importance of renewable energy, how often the cars should be recharged, and the length of the average commute.

It turns out that an average commute is only 40 kilometres – well within reach of the electronic car’s rechargeable capacity, ‘so there no reason not to be more sustainable,’ said Meerwaldt. The car’s range is 90-150 km, so it needs recharging only three times per week. She added that research shows 85 per cent of charging will be at home or work, and only 15 per cent at shopping centres or other public areas.

Green sourcing for manufacture

Renewable energy and sustainability play a vital role along the entire value chain of the BMW i3 and i8, as the sourcing also has to be green, said Meerwaldt. She added that production in Leipzig of the BMW i3 which is coming in October 2013, is powered entirely four wind turbine and collected wind is sufficient for the factory’s three production cycles. The BMW i3 is a battery electric vehicle, built of carbon fibre, which is 50 per cent lighter than steel and 30 per cent lighter than aluminium. It also has outstanding suspension qualities and resists corrosion, acids and solvents. The site where the carbon fibre in the USA is produced is next to a hydroelectric power station.

Meerwaldt said that BMW’s e-mobility solution is ‘360º electric’. “It’s all about flexible mobility and public charging,” she said, adding: “Electric mobility does exist; it will be here this year. You can have it in your everyday life.”

According to Meerwaldt, being sustainable is all about the consumer’s behaviour, not government regulations. She said the charging infrastructure, renewable home energy, energy management and storage, and sustainable concepts for second use of batteries are all interconnected.

“We need to be competent with the technology … and we need to think about the future,” said Meerwaldt. “E-mobility is a big part of being future-proof.”

Focus on the right investments

From his expert position as Non-Executive Director at the UK government’s HM Revenue & Customs tax department, and a non-executive director at Elexon Ltd, which plays a role at the heart of the wholesale electricity market, Volker Beckers gave a brisk run-through of the situation in the UK. He also has the benefit of his time as former CEO of UK-based RWE npower, a UK gas and electricity supplier.The UK Government’s three objectives for energy policy are security of supply, affordability, and climate change. Although these are similar to other industrialised countries with an aging infrastructure, the scale is different, requiring investment of more than GBP 200 billion until 2020. So the UK Government’s proposals to compete for capital in energy infrastructure and attract more investments consist of different elements, such as capacity payments, carbon price support and so-called ‘contract for differences’. The proposition for investors appears attractive and this could be an appealing blueprint for other countries but, as usual, the devil on any element of this reform is in the detail.

Pan-European policy

“In the UK, we clearly need a stable and predictable framework to change our behaviour,” said Volker Beckers. “Whatever technology we’re going into, it’s different to the one we have today. How do we make sure we have the right incentive between demand response and supplier response?” Beckers said the energy industry is looking at the wrong incentives for changing behaviour and channelling investments in the right direction. He suggests introducing a capacity market, in which governments should listen and respond to the capacity needed.

With a staggering set of statistics, Beckers proved his point about the monetary challenge of customer changes, prices, and competitive markets. So what should governments do? "We are heading towards a regulated market, and what's necessary is a pan-European energy policy," said Beckers. “But do we need a European approach? Is there a political bullishness to do so?”

Beckers said that investment cycles in the energy sector are at least 20 years, while the average life cycle of a politician is five years. “When politicians want to fix things in one go, then they’ve got it wrong,” he said.

Currently, money isn’t allocated in the most efficient way, according to Beckers. "If money is tight, we should focus on the right investments," he said, adding that it’s difficult to encourage investors to bring more liquidity to the country as they often simply can’t afford the investments. But Beckers said “it’s not just about saving money. At the end of the day, it’s about the costs we save in the system.”

Lack of large projects

Beckers brought up a serious question: “What has the energy system done for us?” Since the discussion on Electricity Market Reform, not a single large project has been brought forward. People are sceptical what it means to be subject to capacity markets.

Beckers referred to the 60 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions that can be achieved without losing comfort, but said decarbonisation can't happen with the technology installed today.

Smart meters are incompatible with the capacity markets, said Beckers. Smart meters are designed is to change behaviour, and there is no such thing as free energy; ‘There’s always someone running a business wanting to make a return’ he said. But if smart meters are affordable and reduce energy bills significantly, then there is an incentive to change behaviour. Beckers said for those in fuel poverty – those who spend 10 per cent or more of their disposable income on energy – it’s an incentive to watch energy usage. "Whatever you change, do it incrementally," he said, and concluded: "We need to reward energy-generating households."

Panel: Innovate grids; write new rules

Speakers who had already made presentations addressed questions submitted by the audience. They included Kerstin Meerwaldt, Volker Beckers, Huib Morelisse, Jessica Stromback, Dr John Collins and Prof Gail Whiteman.

The electric car is more efficient, and it will make a breakthrough, panellists agreed. Meerwaldt said electric cars will have 3-8 per cent of the market by 2020, but challenges remain, such as developing the roaming services required to charge different manufacturer’s cars. But the combustion engine will remain for years to come, she added.

The smart grid is also facing significant challenges. First, governments have underestimated the cost of protecting it against cyber-attacks, said Volker Beckers. Second, standards have yet to emerge, and third, the existing regulatory infrastructure only accommodates one-way energy supply routes from producers to consumers; the entire system would need overhauling to enable ‘prosumers’ to feed power generated by domestic renewables back to the grid. The final point was contributed by Jessica Stromback, executive director at the Smart Energy Demand Coalition.

Professor Gail Whiteman from RSM stressed the Earth system perspective; it’s imperative to reduce carbon emissions because the price tag of the changing Arctic ecosystem – underwater methane release in the East Siberia Sea – is US$ 60 trillion. Jessica Stromback said carbon emissions are a tough problem, considering business imperatives and time horizons of only five years. Dr Collins argued that this public policy issue is unpopular in his native USA. Government, science, and industry must bring about change together, said Meerwaldt. Dr Collins advocated vegetarianism to reduce carbon footprints, and Prof. Whiteman said we should applaud business leaders already addressing the issue, and not wait for governments.

Engaging the public is a challenge faced by all companies ‘going green’, said Mr Morelisse. Meerwaldt said BMW firmly believes and invests in renewables, even without German subsidies. “Don’t ask the consumer what they want, give it to them,” suggested Professor Whiteman, quoting the late Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. Mr Morelisse argued that combining social with economic goals is important, as does Unilever. Mr Beckers agreed, as old business models are no longer effective. He added that the EU should regulate costs.

Consumer demand in Europe is flat, but the situation in developing countries is different, Ms Stromback noted. Mr Beckers highlighted two issues: first, prosumers need to be told they can become generators, and secondly, consumers need to drive investment in renewables. Having installed solar panels at home, Dr Collins said it was a good deal. Third World villages might well develop small grids around solar cells, he added.

Financial markets are one venue for change. The World Business Council will need to change the short-term capitalistic model, Professor Whiteman said. There is an encouraging trend for more funds for green projects, Ms Stromback noted, and Mr Morelisse acknowledged that funds increasingly limit themselves to investing in companies with decent environmental policies. Mrs Meerwaldt agreed; many established businesses at the recent Bloomberg Energy Forum believe in long-term investment in renewable energy.

You can get a smart grid tomorrow, if you want, according to Ms Stromback. Even without a smart meter, it can be done through on-bill financing, and the changes may happen faster than you think, said Mr Morelisse. Mr Beckers proposed that every household in the UK would be smart-metered by 2020. In the USA, infrastructure for the smart grid is available but the overlaying system is missing, according to Dr Collins. Different markets are at different developmental stages, Mrs Meerwaldt concluded. Utilities should innovate their grids; regulators should write new rules.Continue reading

A business relationship between the customer and the ecosystem

The market for home automation and consumer energy management never really took off, said Dr Dirk Schlesinger, global lead for manufacturing industries at Cisco Systems, which designs, manufactures, and sells networking equipment. But he believes we are now approaching a tipping point for a technology-aided reduction in domestic energy consumption, thanks to the widespread adoption of personal digital devices, such as smartphones and tablets – coupled with increased customer awareness.

Open, multi-tenant, multi-service platforms enable ecosystems, spur service innovation and address the challenges of data-privacy and security at the same time, said Schlesinger. But how can such platforms be unified? According to Schlesinger, the answer is the new buzzword in the IT and telecoms industry; The Internet of Everything which has the potential to grow global corporate profits by 21 per cent by 2020.

There’s an impressive push of products into the market, but a truly connected smart home doesn’t yet exist; attempts have addressed only selected functionalities and development costs have been prohibitive, he said.

Confused consumers

According to Schlesinger, there’s a lack of established standards and dominant platforms, which creates confusion among customers. Payback is doubtful and consumers aren’t sure which platform to follow.

“The technology is not the challenge. But how can you make it general purpose?” asked Schlesinger. He presented an example of a product already available in the USA, which supports a variety of sensors, key pads, and cameras. It has advanced power management to support 24-hour backup.

Schlesinger said what is needed is a technically open – but not open source – enabling platform to be launched globally in markets with a combination of high energy costs and home ownership. It should cover all home functionalities.

People and organisations must work together to make the smart home work, said Schlesinger, adding that customers should know their preferences when controlling their own world. They have already accepted IT as being part of daily life, and use smart gadgets to automate some tasks. “Something needs to come of it for the customer; money, feeling better, and control.”

Schlesinger said he doesn’t believe in one market ‘knowing it all’. “People feel more secure in the USA, but in Germany it’s more about convenience. Some ideas work and some don’t. A centralist approach won’t work. We need an open-innovation platform.”

He said the service shouldn’t be used to sell information. “The system needs to be ‘bullet-proof’ … We believe that an open, discrimination-free enabling platform will emerge as the dominant market design,” said Schlesinger. “It’s not intended to make outrageous profits … The business relationship would be between the customer and the ecosystem.”

Co-operate for a ‘back to basics’ rethink

According to Dr Jochen Kreusel, head of power and automation technology ABB’s Smart Grid section, electricity operating systems and the way electricity is used have remained fundamentally unchanged until now, with the only innovations being within existing systems. The result was the provision of a reliable service that produced a large amount of power.

But the drivers for change to ‘Electricity 2.0’ are evolving. The development of large-scale wind and hydro power from remote locations, as well as power generated from smaller units such as photovoltaic sources have now reached ‘a size and weight that makes it important to think through the whole story and address the more uncomfortable questions’, he said.

The real challenge is to create a smart grid supplied completely from renewable sources.

Challenges in developing such a grid include:

  • Gradients of output from ‘volatile’ wind and solar sources must be buffered by the rest of the system
  • Power generated from remote locations needs to be transmitted over large distances
  • There is only a small amount of decentralised ‘storage’ – for example lakes above hydroelectric plants, and small batteries. There is also ‘the overnight problem’ of excess production and under-consumption
  • Finding the right way to move forward by understanding which drivers apply in which context.

At the same time, the industry strives for more efficiency, better utilisation of infrastructure, and a more precise allocation of investments, he said.

ABB is actively engaged in technical aspects of this second wave of electricity generation; in grids, in power generation and in applications such as automation.

Interconnect and extend the grid

The economically reasonable solution is to interconnect the power system and extend the grid, said Dr Kreusel. ABB is currently investigating the connection of renewable sources of energy across continents, from Europe, North Africa and Asia. Gradients in power output coming from each of these locations would be complementary. ABB is running simulations of virtual power plants that integrate units and sell the output, thereby translating the privately-owned generating model into the needs of the market and consumers.

Dr Kreusel said the development of such a smart grid was an interdisciplinary challenge that required new approaches in power and automation technologies and the co-operation of stakeholders so consumers would be presented with new ideas, and have an incentive to use them.

It would need new information and communication technologies, new legal and regulatory frameworks, and increased customer engagement.

Turning ideas from pilot projects into legal and regulatory frameworks would stimulate development of smarter solutions, and understanding and addressing consumer behaviour would take development forward. The process should be a complete ‘back to basics’ rethink of the system. “And this is not possible without intensive co-operation,” he concluded.

During his question-and-answer session, Dr Kreusel said pilot projects were important because they encourage collaboration between participants. Examples include the Smart City and Gotland projects in which ABB is a participant. Such cross-silo projects need innovation and support, he said.

In answer to the question of how an aggregated grid of renewable power sources that addressed variable consumer demand could be brought to market, Dr Kreusel said it first required a framework that made it possible, one which is actively controlled.

Imperative for the smart grid

Electricity is unlike any other commodity or service until we develop ways to store it, said Professor Schmuel Oren, Earl J. Isaac Professor in the Science and Analysis of Decision Making at the University of California, Berkeley. He named a few ‘inconvenient realities’ that cannot be ignored when working towards a future with smart grids:

  • Demand fluctuates
  • Prices are not very elastic and require continuous management
  • People expect electricity on demand
  • Many externalities
  • Laws of physics
  • Volatility of renewable energy sources

To deal with those challenges, the grid must be made smart, the professor said. For that purpose, we need:

  • to mobilise demand-response – demand needs to follow supply instead of the other way around;
  • technological innovation for control-metering and communication;
  • efficient utilisation of resources through pervasive use of optimisation technology and high-performance computing;
  • an end-to-end transparent market design for wholesale and retail energy that accounts for the physics of electricity.

A centralised wholesale market

Professor Oren focused on the fourth point: “We need a centralised wholesale market design that prices all resources and constrains their true value to the system with accurate locational and temporal granularity,” he said. In this market design, the conventional generation of resources needs to be connected to the distribution network with demand-side participation. “This is what is missing in Europe.”

The professor then presented the design from PJM, the largest regional transmission organisation serving smart wholesale energy market in 14 American states. About 70 per cent of energy flow is served by such regional transmission organisations run by independent system operators, and the design of PJM’s market is regarded as best practice. Engines process bids and calculate prices in the market for different time horizons, with the goal of optimising costs.

Prof. Oren described the technical details behind the process, explaining that prices are volatile and may even become negative due to over-generation. Turning a generator off and on may cost more than keeping it on, ‘so there is competition for the right to stay on’. When the price is negative, consumers are paid to use energy and there is no point to pay for demand response.

“You want to have this kind of granularity in your price system if you really want to have an efficient system,” the professor said.

In response to price uncertainty, forward contracts are forged to smooth out the volatility. Yet it is imperative to keep sight of granularity for efficient demand-response, he stressed. Actors wanting to secure the costs of transportation can buy Financial Transmission Rights (FTR), which provide a great mechanism for sharing transmission capacity because they incentivise transmission from the most efficient energy producing unit, according to the professor.

Professor Oren concluded by describing his current research projects:

  • business models for aggregators to harvest retail participation load and bundle it into a virtual supply plant
  • solving the optimisation problem of uncertainty by projecting different scenarios and the probability of their occurrence
  • Dynamic Topology Control – in light of Kirchhoff’s law, he is exploring the possibilities of cost reduction by disconnecting transmission lines

Panel: Smart homes and smart grid infrastructure

The second panel sessions featured the afternoon’s speakers, who considered questions from the audience.

In answer to a question about affordability, Dr Schlesinger said smart home technology would become more affordable as a response to energy consumption. Developing countries would see consumption rise, but perhaps grids there connected to solar panels might remain smaller, he said. Highly integrated grids are a result of the scaling effects of conventional power generation. Alok Gupta, who holds two professor’s titles in information management and decision science at the University of Minnesota, argued that smart technologies could be used to provide access to energy, and energy in developing countries will be around small, integrated, self-sustaining communities.

Regarding the possibility of regional energy markets, or electricity prices calculated every second, Professor Oren said the last 50 years have been spent trying to interconnect the market to use resources more efficiently; creating little pockets would be less efficient. Dr Kreusel pointed out that large markets arose to avoid wasting energy generated by large power plants. Wind is a traditional technology in that respect, but photovoltaic power is combined with storage. ‘If we have storage and demand-response, the grid may solve its own problems and economics may change the game’, he said.

Dr Schlesinger said he did not believe there would be a single home automation technology in 10 years’ time, but there would be fewer standards and less complexity.

According to Dr Kreusel, prosumers solving the problems of intermittent wind and solar power would be inefficient without sufficient storage, and would be better delegated to a system level. In Germany, the guaranteed take-off of energy from small actors is creating structural problems; in Denmark, everyone is subject to the same rules when supplying power to the grid, and service providers are helping small actors in virtual plants.

Can a market pay customers to not consume energy in order to balance the system? Yes, said Prof. Oren, if you know exactly how much it costs and provide the right incentives. But virtual – and reliable – power plants would be a good solution. Dr Kreusel argued in favour of a horizontal communication structure parallel to the traditional hierarchical system and open to the market. Professor Oren pointed out that although we target energy conservation, the value proposition is to harness the flexibility of flexible load, which is essentially a back-up.

An autocratic approach to industrial and domestic energy demand is definitely not needed, said Dr Schlesinger, but an automated and convenient one with reliable prices is. Prof. Gupta said the reality will be somewhere between devices that ‘know your preferences and maximise your experience’, without risk of violation. Dr Kreusel suggested a framework that will make people ask for smart meters. The innovation process should provide business models, said Prof. Oren; you must accommodate operators and customers.

IT structures will cope with security and management of the data load in a smart grid, according to Dr Schlesinger. Data volume is not an issue but security is a question that supersedes the smart grid and data privacy cannot be guaranteed. Professor Gupta agreed that data will not create much load, and said there are efforts ‘behind the scenes’ working on the security issue.

Service providers will want a share of the role taken by telecom operators in the IT infrastructure, Dr Schlesinger said, for revenue and for the benefit of capacities such as data centres. Still, telecom operators should decide what they want to offer according to domain-specific limitations. According to Professor Gupta, telecom companies are good at understanding customer preferences.

According to Dr Schlesinger, the real challenge is not making traditional devices smart enough to control remotely, but developing protocols. ‘Smart washing machines are already connectable’ he said.

Erasmus Energy Awards for Science and Business

Introducing the Erasmus Energy Science and Business Awards, Jan-Christiaan Koenders, President of  BMW Group Nederland gave an example of the use of science in business success. BMW engineers were asked to address the use of energy inside the car, and reviewed all the peripheral components using power from the engine, changing the way they were managed. For example, said Koenders, they installed a system that operates the oil pump only when it is necessary to maintain oil pressure. These small steps not only reduced the car’s CO2 emissions, but freed up the engine making it faster.

The Award certificates were presented by Dr Laurens Rook, Assistant Professor at the Technology, Policy and Management Faculty of Delft University of Technology.

Winner of the Erasmus Energy Business Award 2013 was NomadPower of Woerden in the Netherlands. The company received a certificate and the chance to tell the audience about its innovative product. Jos Schreurs of NomadPower told the audience that conventional diesel-powered cooling units create noise and emissions while maintaining the temperature of the goods in the truck’s load during obligatory nine or 11 hour breaks. This can be a particular nuisance at truck stops. NomadPower hook-ups for truck refrigeration units reduce noise and emissions locally, and are cheaper to run than diesel units, ‘saving the environment at no cost!’ he added. The idea came from marinas and harbours where boats can use electrical hook-ups. “But we discovered there were almost no power connection points at parking places for trucks,” he said.

Erasmus Energy Award for NomadPowerThe company now installs its power points at truck stops along Europe’s main road transport routes. The system is simple to use. The truck driver logs into to a power point using a mobile phone. The system records the user, the location of the power point and the number of Kilo Watt hours used. The information is transmitted to Nomad’s central office, where an invoice is prepared. Trucks need very little adaptation to be able to use the NomadPower system, added Schreurs.

The runners-up for the Erasmus Energy Business Award 2013 were AllGreen Ecotech Solutions Pvt. Ltd from Noida in India who supply the AllGreen Ecolibrium Energy Management Saving system which helps to optimise energy usage in buildings and increases energy efficiency, resulting in substantial cost savings; and Cleopa GmbH from Hennigsdorf in Germany, supplier of Cleolux Greenlight LED lighting that creates financial and carbon savings.

The Erasmus Energy Science Award 2013 is for research which pairs practical relevance to future energy business and presents new findings with scientific rigour. The judges decided to announce two winners because of the high-quality attributes of the two top nominees. Winners were: the CrocodileAgent team from the University of Zagreb in Croatia; researchers Jurica Babić, Ivo Buljević, Sinisa Matetic, Tomislav Brisevac and Vedran Podobnik are active in developing solutions for trading and visualisation in future energy markets, and researchers from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands; Laura Ramírez Elizondo and Matthijs Spaan have developed methods for optimising the energy generation, distribution and consumption across whole districts, including electric vehicles. The Erasmus Energy Award for Science prize fund of €1,000 was spilt between both winners.

Runner-up for the Erasmus Energy Forum Science Award 2013 was the partnership of Lukas Exel and Georg Frey from Saarland University in Germany who have researched decentralised feed-in forecasts for distributed power generation.