Every era has its defining terms. Twenty years ago the focus was on "liberalizing the energy markets," then "renewables" came on the scene, and now it is "digitization," with digital communication gaining ever more importance with the expansion of renewable, decentralized energy facilities.
Global players like Hitachi and General Electric (GE) , as well as smaller, innovative companies such as the Bavarian PcVue Solutions or Leipzig-based ccc-software are creating new platforms, concepts and software tools.
"Energy suppliers, independent power generators and industrial and commercial customers with high energy costs are facing big challenges today in the energy markets," says Olaf Heil, Managing Director Energy Solutions EMEA-CIS, Hitachi Europe. "More and more investment is going into renewable and clean energy production, while the major energy producers are losing money because they cannot use their existing facilities optimally at current pricing levels. Based on our experience in the energy industry and engineering, Hitachi is presenting a new approach in which IoT (Internet of Things) elements in the energy field are integrated into a comprehensive solution. This makes it easier to manage decentralized and fluctuating energy production, and improve profitability and efficiency," Heil continues.
While Hitachi presents its new IoT solutions in Hall 12, US-based General Electric (GE) is showcasing its "digital strategy for industry," where it combines its existing industrial know-how with the software expertise of the future. "As part of the digitization trend, every sector is now looking at digital technologies to gain competitive advantages by networking assets and analyzing data. With its Predix operating system, GE has created a platform for the digital transformation of the industrial Internet," says Alf Henryk Wulf, Chairman of the Board of GE Power. "This software platform was made available to external users a year ago, and is now utilized by more than 23,000 developers worldwide. The digitization of the energy sector will make more efficient use of assets across the entire system – from power generation from different energy sources, to transmission, storage and consumption."
And it is not only the big players that are working industriously on digital concepts. Panoramic Power, a subsidiary of the British firm Centrica founded in 2011 and a leading provider of sensor-based energy management solutions, is exhibiting its technology portfolio in Hannover. Companies can use Panoramic Power's wireless, self-regulated sensors and cloud-based analysis platform to optimize their energy consumption and improve their performance. The solution is flexible and scalable. "If you take the environment and sustainability seriously, you can't do without the kind of energy management we offer," says Jon Rabinowitz, Head of Marketing for Panoramic Power.
As can be seen at the Digital Energy show, many smaller companies also offer interesting digital products to help optimize processes in the energy sector and for industry. "In every part of the energy sector, the IoT, smart grids and cybersecurity are increasing the demands made on operating software," says Hans-Jürgen Schmitt, CEO of PCVue Solutions. "And service employees and technicians also need to work with ever-expanding flows of data, because smart transformer substations, wind, solar and biogas facilities are being networked and forming virtual power plants, while buildings and factories are becoming energy producers. At the same time, master displays are increasingly being moved to mobile devices," explains Schmitt, whose PCVue Solutions offers systems for communication between people, connected objects and the SCADA system using the latest mobile and geolocation technologies such as NFC, Bluetooth, LE beacons, QR codes, GPS and IPS (indoor positioning systems). “We use these technologies to offer contextualized mobility based on environmental and location-based services”
Leipzig-based CCC Software is specialized in the specific requirements of energy-intensive companies, whether in the food industry, glass production or metalworking: It offers software that allows production sites to reduce their energy consumption by up to 30 percent. "Our programs process all available digital data for manufacturing," explains Heike Diebler, Marketing Director of CCC software, "starting with load profiles and peaks, all the way to the individual pressure valves. Our software focuses not just on energy optimization of manufacturing, but also integrates into the energy management system the resource efficiency of other inputs such as demineralized water, nitrogen, steam and compression. The fewer resources that need to be input, the lower the energy usage for making these available," says Diebler of the software's sustainability impact. Clearly digitization has many benefits to offer the energy sector.