At the end of 2014, a total of 24,867 wind power systems, more than 7,300 water power stations and some 3.5 million solar systems were in operation in Germany. To keep a proper technical and economic overview of such systems, operators have to rely on intelligent power networks based on M2M technology, also called "smart grids". M2M plays a key role in the transformation of Germany's energy sector.
By the year 2025, renewable energy sources are expected to account for up to 45% of all energy production in the EU. Achieving that level of use is no trivial matter, however, because wind, water and solar power systems are subject to frequent unforeseeable fluctuations and often have decentralized structures.
Smart meters are expected to become the standard
Smart meters play a useful role in controlling energy generation and consumption. For example, energy suppliers often link large numbers of small-scale combined heating and power (CHP) plants and solar power systems to form large virtual power plants that can compensate for production shortfalls as soon as the wind stops blowing and wind turbines stop turning.
Complete-coverage installation of smart meters is seen as an important step towards intelligent energy management in the residential sector. The EU is seeking to have smart meters installed in 80% of the EU's nearly 200 million households by 2020. In field tests, energy savings of about 4% have been achieved with smart meters. This means that smart meters could save 1.2 billion euros in Germany, and nearly 2,000,000 tons of CO2, if they were in place in all German households.
Best practice: QIVICON
With its QIVICON platform, Deutsche Telekom is bringing together a range of Smart Home solutions offered by partner companies. These include systems for remotely controlling thermostats, lighting systems, blinds and many household appliances. The potential value which building automation can bring to optimizing energy management for private households, public buildings and commercial real estate properties is seen in current figures obtained by consultancy firm Deloitte: by the year 2020, some one million households are expected to become smart homes in Germany, and by 2025 the volume of the Smart Home market could reach 19 billion euros.
Best practice: automated facility maintenance
M2M also facilitates everyday maintenance tasks for energy suppliers. For example, Giese, a Deutsche Telekom partner and energy specialist located in Puchheim, near Munich in Germany, uses M2M for remote maintenance of its CHP systems. The relevant control systems consist of a communication box, equipped with a radio module and an M2M SIM card, that connects directly to the control systems of power stations. It transmits measurements, status reports and maintenance-interval data, via Deutsche Telekom's wireless network, to a data center. In cases of disruptions, the system sends reports to the responsible control center, thereby informing technicians which replacement parts are needed for repairs.
Best practice: invoices at the push of a button
Automated recording of buildings' consumption data reduces expenses for annual invoicing of operational costs, for both building owners and renters. At Haus & Grund Mannheim, a smart grid covering more than 2,000 apartments in the southern-German city of Mannheim, records data on electricity, gas and water consumption and sends them to a central server. The staff at Haus & Grund Mannheim continually receive a real-time overview of consumption data for all relevant properties and can prepare invoices at the push of a button. And tenants can keep track of their personal consumption in real time.