E-DeMa is a joint project between SWK, RWE, Siemens, Miele, ProSyst, the universities of Bochum, Duisburg/Essen and Dortmund and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Dortmund. These groups are working to develop and demonstrate an e-energy, locally networked "energy marketplace of the future" using cutting-edge information and communication technology.
As part of this project, the municipal utility of Krefeld, SWK, is running a pilot program with the purpose of creating a sustainable model for utility companies to employ, which would allow consumers to become active participants in the market by controlling their consumption. Krefeld was selected as a model region – as it offers an excellent variety of housing – to provide a representative cross-section of the entire population structure.
SWK wanted to determine how best to motivate its customers to care about energy and change their energy usage habits, utilizing simple visualization that would enable them to understand, actively manage and control their consumption.
"We needed to find a solution that would display gas, water and electricity usage information in as close to real time as possible. Crucially, the solution needed to be compatible with the Siemens AMIS smart meters with which we were equipping our customer's homes – many existing smart energy visualization applications are not," explained Dr. Petra Giese, Marketing Manager at SWK. "Digi International was actually recommended as an M2M partner to us by Siemens," she added.
Digi designed a completely new, custom software application to meet the requirements of SWK's pilot project. The resulting Android application runs on a low-cost consumer tablet within the home and can also be downloaded onto customers' personal smartphones or tablets, allowing for remote viewing and management. The customer can also access their consumption information via the E-DeMa marketplace website. The idea behind the display is to motivate the customer to be more engaged with the topic since it is such an easy to use tool.
Creating the communication links between all the components and the consumers in the project is the Digi Extended Grid Solution platform, which utilizes Digi Remote Manager and ConnectPort® X2 with Wireless M-Bus gateways. In the SWK solution, the Siemens AMIS meter wirelessly sends the consumption information over the OMS protocol to the Digi gateway connected to the consumers' DSL connection, which transmits the data over Digi Remote Manager directly to the application for display.
SWK has rolled-out the solution to 125 of its existing customers who have volunteered to participate in the pilot scheme. "When our technicians went to participants' homes to install and explain the technology, we had extremely positive feedback on the design and usability of the displays," said Giese.
As the Digi Extended Grid Solution platform is designed to function as a turnkey Smart Energy networking solution, it supports quick project deployment. The cloud platform makes it fully scalable to millions of users without impacting the operational performance of the distribution network. The whole point of the E-DeMa Smart Energy project taking place across Germany is to build a sustainable model for the future; therefore, a technology partner that will easily support further deployments is key. The project has proved to be successful in practice and has been beneficial for both customers and the municipal utility of Krefeld SWK.