There are many players in today’s energy markets, including power plants of all sizes as well as network operators, consumers, and power suppliers. A new data hub from Siemens simplifies billing of complex power flows, thus making market access easier for all participants.
In an increasingly complex energy market, Siemens is improving the billing of a wide range of associated business processes. This simplifies the interplay of the electricity market’s many participants, which is necessary because today’s liberalized markets have become extremely complex.
Not only can consumers freely choose their suppliers, countless small energy producers are feeding electricity into the lower grid level, which consists of the distribution network. Moreover, large amounts of energy are being transmitted across long distances to demand centers.
Because this electricity generally travels through the grid of an external operator, each use of a grid has to be billed separately. To enable these flows of electricity to be easily and correctly billed, Siemens has now developed Market Transaction Manager, a software application for EnergyIP, its smart grid data platform.
Because most electrical energy isn’t stored, but is almost always immediately consumed, grid operators have to continually forecast expected demand for specific network areas. Operators then supply the predicted amount of energy by purchasing electricity or planning in the electricity from available power plants.
However, if the amount of energy that is actually consumed differs from the quantity forecast, this disparity has to be billed later on. Network losses — which arise every time electricity is transmitted — also have to be correctly estimated.
A Proliferation of Suppliers and Operators
To date, such retroactive billing between individual power suppliers and grid operators has been governed by bilateral agreements. The more players a market has – Germany, for example, has more than 1,000 power suppliers and over 900 network operators – the more complex such retroactive billing becomes. Moreover, meter data isn’t available at all times for every transfer point so that retroactive corrections sometimes have to be made for periods that go back more than one year.
Now, thanks to EnergyIP – essentially a hub or platform for the comprehensive processing of meter data – demand and supply data will be collected, checked, and quickly transmitted to associated players. In addition to providing a uniform pool of basic data, the platform opens the door to the elimination of bilateral agreements between players. Small and new companies thus gain easier access to the market.
The introduction of smart meters, some of which can take readings every 15 minutes, generates huge amounts of data, whose processing would otherwise require every network operator to have its own solution. What’s more, new legislation can be more easily integrated into a centralized platform than in decentralized systems. EnergyIP is expected to play a role in this area.
When Customers Switch to Suppliers
Siemens has now developed Market Transaction Manager (MTM), an application that builds on this platform. This application serves as a data hub for consumers, small producers – “prosumers” – network operators, suppliers, large energy producers, and provides them with the information they need for their business processes.
Take, for example, customers who want to switch their power suppliers. Because this may happen much more often in the future than it does today, such changes will have to occur quickly. That’s where the new data hub can help.
If a participant reports that he will switch his supplier at a certain date, the system first checks whether the new supplier is approved, after which it determines the current meter reading and specifies the date of the switch for the meter that is assigned to the consumer in question. In addition, the system stores the associated history (i.e. which supplier was linked to which meter at a specific time) so that retroactive billing can still be correctly performed for the next few years.
Tracking Meter Readings
Market Transaction Manager can also bill the difference between actual and forecast demand. It adds up the meter readings of all of a supplier’s consumers on a daily basis. But because a specific grid area can contain anywhere from several thousand to millions of meters, there will never be a time when all of the readings are correct. As a result, the missing data has to be estimated on the basis of load profiles.
Once several days have elapsed, a grid area’s data situation will be stable enough to bill its consumption. The MTM then independently corrects all of the readings that are not yet available and regularly supplies this information to market players at the end of the month, for example, so that they can retroactively bill the amounts.
The MTM proceeds in a similar manner to determine network losses (the difference between the energy that is fed into and taken out of a grid). Missing readings are reliably corrected later on if meters only provide readings at long intervals, for example.
Applications in Gas and Water Markets
Additional business processes and players will enter the liberalized electricity market in the future. For example, the market will contain service providers who will purchase electricity on behalf of major consumers in order to optimize the latter’s energy costs. The installation of smart meters in private households will also create additional new business models.
These developments can be flexibly supported and promoted by a centralized data platform that interacts with a data hub that appropriately prepares all of the information for the respective business processes. Moreover, the solution is not restricted to electrical energy, as it can also be used for the gas and water markets, for example. Initial applications already exist. For example, Norway’s state-owned network operator will put the data platform elhub and its associated data hub into operation for business processes in 2017.
Source for the number of network operators and power suppliers in Germany
Herr Dr Norbert Aschenbrenner
Herr Florian Martini
Dr. Norbert Aschenbrenner | Siemens Pictures of the Future
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