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According to Christian Arnold, we are still in the preindustrial phase of the digital energy future. The Managing Director of EWE is working on enera, one of the Smart Grid model projects supported by the German government. A diverse network of traditional energy companies and new players are working closely together on this project. “Questions of secure supply and economic viability are taking entirely new form,” says Arnold.

Siemens representative Dr. Rolf Helmes adds: “Germany is a test lab for the smart grid. The world is watching us.” This is an opportunity to develop future global standards here at home, and experts must be very careful to choose standards that make sense. For example, the BSI safety requirements are quite good in this regard, but extremely unwieldy to implement and not necessary everywhere. Specific applications merit precise attention.

Dr. Jörg Benze of T-Systems Multimedia Solutions is already thinking about a peer-to-peer future. Maybe soon there will be no more large power plants, but instead innumerable individual producers of energy. IT is looking at intelligent distribution, which is where IT providers such as Google come into play.

Companies could process smart meter data centrally in the Google cloud, for example. That is why his company sees itself as an IT partner to the energy sector, says Marc Ritter, the software giant's resident energy expert. User analyses can be run in the cloud to enable more individualized products. “Let's be honest, we know almost nothing about our customers today,” notes Arnold. “Needs are changing and we have to reinvent ourselves quickly if we want to continue to reach our customers.”

Individual offers should be developed from specific customer segments. A Google demo project launched in the US shows what is possible: Users enter their home address and can immediately learn what the annual sun exposure is and how much savings could be achieved with the use of photovoltaic systems.

Digitization thus offers completely new opportunities for value creation across the energy industry. Ideas, technologies and solutions are being presented at HANNOVER MESSE 2017.