The energy sector has begun a fundamental transformation from the old analogue system to a fully digital network. Solar PV has a huge amount to gain from this, with new ways of selling, controlling and gaining revenue from smart PV emerging from a digitalised electricity ecosystem. What are the opportunities and barriers for solar that arise from smart meters, smart buildings and smart grids, and how can more digital solar offerings help projects increase profitability? What will Solar Industry 4.0 look like, and how can we improve our own processes? How will digital technology connect solar PV with other small-scale generation and demand response to form fully aggregated Virtual Power Plants? And how can Blockchain technology fundamentally change how electricity markets operate? These are just some of the topics that we intend to cover in the SolarPower Europe Digitalisation & Solar Task Force.
At the SolarPower Summit 2017, the members of SolarPower Euorpe declared that they:
- Believe that the digitalisation of the electricity ecosystem can improve the customer experience of using solar and increase engagement, make the process of going solar more convenient and make the billing process more transparent.
- Highlight how Solar Industry 4.0, and in particular digitalisation and decentralised decision-making, can improve processes, increase efficiency and bring costs down in solar which will in turn help tackle energy poverty.
- Highlight how smart buildings can bring a holistic approach to electricity, heating & cooling and mobility, creating demand flexibility and increasing solar self-consumption rates.
- Underline the importance of digitalisation as a means to better integrating solar PV into the existing grid, helping to modernise the grid, and as a tool for solar to provide and be remunerated for new services to the system.
This Task Force is led by Professor Bernd Engel, SMA Solar Technology Senior Vice President responsible for technology and grid integration and professor of sustainable energy system components at Technische Universitat Braunschweig, Germany.
Over the course of the next year the Task Force will publish three main deliverables: a set of regulatory asks, a set of commitments from the solar industry, and a report on the market opportunities for solar in digitalisation.