As a part of its climate protection policy, the German government supports the development of intelligent systems to measure energy consumption. In collaboration with IBM, the energy supplier EnBW has developed one such system that not only measures consumption, but also keeps the user informed of the current electricity price. Thanks to a little device, private users will be able to adapt their consumption to the current rate – a revolution in power points, made possible by up-to-the-minute data transmitted over e*Message’s paging network.
In the near future, a little device will help consumers save electricity and money. Its three-inch LCD screen shows the power price for the current hour and a preview for the next twelve to thirty-six hours. Plugged into a power point, the device receives constantly updated data via e*Message’s paging network – all thanks to a paging chip. The price data is available at all times and colour-coded, thus providing the consumer with an alternative to information from the Internet.
“Picture it as an electricity traffic light that shows whether the electricity is cheap, normal or expensive,” explains Hellmuth Frey from the energy supplier EnBW (Energie Baden-Württemberg AG). Red stands for “expensive”, yellow for “normal”, and green for “cheap”. Frey is running a pilot project called “Electricity Price Data at the Power Point”, which is aimed at controlling supply and demand sensibly through tiered prices. “The price data at the power point is designed to encourage customers to use electricity primarily at times where the demand is lower, and so avoid peak times when demand approaches the available capacities,” Frey continues. This would significantly contribute to climate protection.
Electricity Rate Display Updated Over Paging Network
In a test run, EnBW intends to equip 1,000 homes in Baden-Württemberg not only with electricity rate displays, but also with remotely readable electric meters and a variable rate based on the standard set by the EEX, the European Energy Exchange in Leipzig, Germany. The test package includes three components: displaying the cheapest rate is not enough: the suppliers also need to measure and bill power consumption using state-of-the-art meters. The overall system, called Advanced Meter Management (AMM), was developed by EnBW, Germany’s third largest energy supplier, in collaboration with IBM.
EnBW transmits the price data to the displays over the paging network operated by the Berlin-based company e*Message W.I.S. Deutschland GmbH. In Germany, some 800 transmitting stations supply 98 percent of the population with paging services. Dr. Dietmar Gollnick, CEO of the European e*Message group announced at at the CeBIT 2008: “Following the sensational success of the weather stations launched barely a year ago, our technology can now bring about a similar quantum leap on the energy market. Well over 600,000 weather stations that provide constantly updated weather forecasts and other information over our paging network have already been sold. This demonstrates the unbeatable advantages of paging over GSM or similar technologies: paging chips and networks are considerably cheaper to buy and operate. Moreover, pagers have a very low power consumption and the network coverage is excellent, even for indoor applications.”
Cost Transparency Leads to More Sensible Energy Consumption
According to EnBW, the cost transparency provided by the electricity rate displays will contribute to more sensible energy consumption and ultimately to greater energy efficiency. At the same time, the device enables the energy supplier to predict demand more accurately, and to avoid the consumption peaks that necessitate buying electricity from other suppliers.
To make it easier for consumers to save energy, the German government has also recently adopted a comprehensive climate protection package, which includes not only appropriate measures for energy production and transport, but also intelligent power consumption monitoring. The aim is to double energy efficiency by 2020 compared to 1990.