E-WorId February 2016 : IJENKO ready to meet the German Big Four Utilities and the 1400 Stadtwerke

15 December 2015
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As the COP 21 agreement should significantly accelerate clean-energy improvements, obviously, innovation is going to be central to help the German Big Four Utilities and the 1400 Stadtwerke to meet their goals. IJENKO present at the E-World biggest fair in Germany can provide solutions to lower their Co2 emissions with their residential customers while creating new services to retain them. 

The Big Four Utilities : Chasing the Energiewende

The four largest players in the German electricity market – E.ON, RWE, Vattenfall and EnBW –  are facing several challenges : moving to renewables and creating new services to better retain their residential customers that tend to switch from one big Four to another.

These challenges may have been made harder by the fact that Germany’s big utilities have been losing money lately—because of the energiewende, they say;  E.ON, the largest utility, which owns Grafenrheinfeld and many other plants, declared a loss of more than three billion euros last year.

Having belatedly taken the energiewende train compared to the German citizens, they’re now chasing it. E.ON is splitting into two companies, one devoted to coal, gas, and nuclear, the other to renewables.

Renewables evolution in Germany 2015 Stats_Renewables_Germany_2015_C02_Emissions


German Stadtwerke in a better position to retain their customers ? 

In the past, Stadtwerke were considered unsophisticated, inefficient and dusty. For quite a while now, their image seems to have changed fundamentally.

Their market share in German energy retail amounts to 46 percent in electricity, 59 percent in gas and 65 percent in heat distribution. In comparison, RWE, the largest single retailer in Germany, has a market share of 16 percent in electricity and 10 percent in gas in the retail business to private households.

Large municipal utilities like Stadtwerke München invest a lot in Renewables. For instance,  Munich now produces enough renewable electricity to supply its households, subway, and tram lines. By 2025 it plans to meet all of its demand with renewables.

According to VKU (the Alliance of municipal utilities in Germany), the Stadtwerke are able to keep their strong local customer base because they are popular: Many Germans trust them and welcome that profits stay in the local community.

Live Internet of Energy services demos to create value for the Big Four & Stadtwerke

Visitors to the E-world will discover from 16th to 18th February 2016 the latest developments in the IoE2 experience live at the IJENKO booth:

– Home Security interaction with the D-Link Network Camera and opening contacts
– Energy Management and Remote Control with smart wearables such as the Apple Watch
– Smart Heating with interaction of intelligent NEST thermostat
– Home Comfort control, for example, with the Philips Hue and Sonos devices

–A powerful data model with API offering the possibility for third parties like developers to create the applications the Utilities want. You can discover it right now on http://developers.ijenko.com/

You can find IJENKO at the Stand GA-46

Make an appointment with our team contact@ijenko.com.

Join IJENKO at E-World 2016 in ESSEN


Sources :

Association of Stadwerke : http://www.vku.de/
Clean Energy Wire : https://www.cleanenergywire.org


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The place of consumers: how to make demand response programs attractive?

10 December 2015
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Demand Response Value Proposition to make it attractive to consumers


Residential Demand Response (DR) consists in performing power-cuts of electrical household equipment (mainly heaters, HVAC and domestic hot water) which delays the consumption of such equipment. These power-cuts are made over short periods (between few minutes and an hour) in order to control the household’s load and change its consumption curve with a possible carryover effect. Residential demand response contributes, alongside industrial demand response, in providing an answer to different issues related to the electrical system: supply and grid security concerns, peak demand situations that traditionally require the startup of high carbon power stations and, to a lesser extent, energy efficiency objectives.

The end-user, key stakeholder of residential Demand Response

Tariff signal response is one among the simplest ways to perform DR. In France, turning off the hot water tank during peak hours using a local relay is an effective example that exists since decades. Although there is no reduction of his energy consumption, the end consumer can benefit from substantial savings on his electricity bill. With simple programming tools, it is possible to operate additional energy intensive appliances in order to move the consumption to more favorable rate periods. This is referred to as “Implicit DR”: the customer accepts a “price-based” load management plan, and plays a “proactive” role by deciding what appliances are monitored according to the price period.

These energy management tools will be more and more popular in a context of continuous increase of energy prices, especially in the case of ToU (Time of Use) and/or dynamic tariffs expansion. Hence, the arrival of smart meters enabling new tariffs schemes will improve the quality of metering and help consequently in the spread of tariff signal response DR programs.

“Explicit Demand Response” is another way to perform DR. It consists in the organization of planned or real-time automated operations of usage decrease on electrical devices. It is an active way of managing demand with the benefits of low carbon impact and energy cost efficiency on wholesale markets. Explicit Demand Response involves an entire value chain: technical enablers are in charge of home monitoring and piloting, technical aggregators manage different flexibility bases, and commercial aggregators trade these flexibility assets on different markets.

Source: IJENKO – Value chain of the flexibility market

In this value chain, the final consumer plays more a “reactive” role, and the challenge for DR operators is to involve the consumer at the right extent to increase participation level and restrain opt-outs or overrides during DR operations.

French residential DR, a business model yet to be found

If industrial Demand Response has boomed since decades, residential Demand Response, apart from the price-based scheme (peak / off-peak hours, “EJP” and Tempo tariff) provided by the historical energy provider EDF, is still in pilot and experimentations phase. This soft start is due to a major factor: uncertain economic model.

The technical chain of residential Demand Response does not involve the same actors than the commercial and industrial one. Moreover, it requires substantial efforts and technologies to provide high volume and reliable capacity that commercial aggregators can price for markets. In France, the public authorities have laid the first stone and showed their willingness to support residential Demand Response through a “Residential DR incentive” policy that sets the amount to €16 per megawatt hour of shed energy and per customer. Would this bonus help operators in building a profitable business case and allow end-users to receive an incentive? It certainly helps, but may unfortunately require additional initiatives.

In the industrial world, a plant where production lines can be operated by a SCADA system and / or be supplied by local electric generators, providing capacity can be done at short notice and with reasonable guarantee of volume and reliability. In the residential world, a consumer provides a limited capacity and cannot guarantee its availability at any time. An electricity-heated household, offering the possibility to control two radiators, represent 2 to 3kW capacity. Thousands of homes are required to reach the threshold of 10 MW necessary to access the French balancing market for example. Moreover, aggregating residential capacity is not the only issue. Its price should be competitive compared to the commercial and industrial one.

This brings us to the question of how to involve consumers at large scale while ensuring their commitment in the long term.

Feedback, control and incentives, the watchwords for consumer engagement

Little impact on comfort

The first concern of a user who is given the information that his electric heater will be turned off during the day is the impact on his comfort. It is possible to measure this impact in terms of the drop of ambient temperature (estimated at 0.4 ° C for a 15, 20 minutes power-cut, according to a study of ADEME, the French energy agency), but it is difficult to quantify it in terms of sensitivity, which remains a subjective concept.

The qualitative study conducted by the Modelec project team (project supported by ADEME and Direct Energie, the 2nd alternative energy supplier in France), revealed that consumers felt little discomfort at the end of DR operations of 15 till 60 minutes duration.

Graph analysis on the discomfort caused by Demand Response

Source: Extract from the qualitative study conducted by the Modelec project team

Thanks to the technology , there are other tools to make DR operations even more unnoticed to end-users. One is preferences settings: consumers can configure periods where their participation to DR events is unwelcome, or temperature levels they consider as minimum to feel comfortable. Emerging technologies such as “machine learning” (self-learning by machines to improve their algorithms) and distributed intelligence (partly in the home and not cloud-only) are able to integrate these decision-making criteria to operate precise control actions, hence meeting both consumers and operators expectations. This is more complex than a price signal sent by a smart meter and executed by an ON/OFF dry-contact switch.

User experience and possibility to opt-out

Users seek simplicity. Quick access to desired functionalities and limited data capture are all adoption criteria.

When the consumer is selected to participate in an upcoming Demand Response event, it is necessary to notify him with comprehensive information: the reason why a DR operation is being scheduled, the date and time of the operation, the equipments involved, etc.

Relevant notifications should work in mobile environment (smartphones, connected watches) to be accessed everywhere. If opt-out (withdraw from an operation) opportunity is given to users, it has to be simple and immediate, without repetitive clicks and deep navigation, and the same for overriding actions (for e.g. to restart an HVAC switched off during the DR event).

This flexibility given to consumers to opt-out or override may look like a risk for the system reliability. Sociological studies conducted during the Modelec project reveal that, on the contrary, the feeling of keeping control over its own comfort contributes into maintaining a high level of involvement and, consequently, increasing the level of participation and engagement.

Making the Energy a social network

It would be obvious to say that the social and collective dimensions are powerful levers to involve users.

Climate data, performance regarding similar homes, individual and collective contribution to the balance of the national electricity grid, peak management, energy efficiency best practices, all these are relevant information to be shared through a social media (Facebook, etc.) They contribute into a clear understanding of Demand Response aspects and benefits to each of the stakeholders. This is about changing the image that users have about energy so that they better apprehend their individual use and their impact at a community scale. This educational work, to be undertaken by operators and public authorities, will lead to a collective consciousness around the energy issues and the emergence of smart grids.

A comprehensive Home & Energy management service

Many operators agree on the fact that a consistent business case is one that covers DR among other consumer services.

This approach has been adopted in some countries by utility companies that offer to their customers a home energy management service including Demand Response complementary to energy efficiency, local generation management and / or smart heating services etc.

It is a user-centric driven approach as much as an economic driven one. The value proposition is more comprehensive from a user-point of view, where Demand Response is a service among others allowing the consumer to better manage the energy of his household. So far, bill savings, thanks to both DR and energy efficiency, have been a real opportunity to bring customer satisfaction. The emergence of local generation and domestic storage are even more opportunities to create and enrich the user experience and bring profitability to service providers. Indeed, it is not easy to offer a unique service that is sufficient to create value for both customer and operator.  It seems more significant to develop packaged services, a subset delivering more value to the user (energy management, savings on his invoice, the link between energy and other connected devices in the house, etc.) and another subset delivering more value to the operator, such as demand management. Moreover, a packaged service provides access to different data and features from a central point, making it more acceptable and enjoyable from end-users.

Financial and tariffs incentives

Addressing the question of compensation is essential for customers’ empowerment and engagement.

A US firm study reveals that consumers start paying attention to their usage when they have the means to perform at least 30% savings on their bill. This level amounts to several megawatt-hours and hundreds of euros for electricity-intensive homes. This part of the energy bill is significant when compared to the bonus of €16 per megawatt hour and per customer defined by the French residential DR incentive policy mentioned above. More attractive schemes need to be built, ones that combine new service value and provides effective savings for the consumer. The example of the partnership between PG&E (Pacific and Gas Electric company) and BMW in the United States is quite innovative: BMW customers receive financial compensation by accepting that PG&E manages the load of their BMW electric vehicles for a short period of time during peak periods.

Lessons to be learned for European markets

Given the success of Demand Response programs over the Atlantic, it is difficult to imagine that Europe, and particularly France, would not follow the same trend. Economic conditions (energy prices, depreciation cost of electricity plants, continuous increase of the national load peak, more efficient and less expensive technology, and digitalization of energy) will converge to help create a viable and sustainable business model. The commitment of the consumer will be a natural consequence of the implementation of value-added services that help him achieve significant savings either by direct incentives either through energy efficiency programs.

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IJENKO selected for 7th Smart Energy UK & Europe Summit 2016 awards as Technology of the Year

3 December 2015
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5. Smart Home Technology of the Year

IJENKO was selected by the 7th Smart Energy UK & Europe Summit 2016 awards as Technology of the Year and is ready to convince the jury  that IJENKO proposes an outstanding combination of Internet of Energy and Internet of Everything in the home. Upstream of the meter IJENKO delivers Residential Demand Response operations as a technical enabler of Direct Energie, 2nd alternative Energy supplier in France, while downstream the meter, we offer Energy efficiency and home automation services including now IP devices. Here are the main reasons why IJENKO was shortlisted :

Openness, the true differentiator to build a network effect for the Utilities

We have created in IJENKO a powerful data model with API offering the possibility for third parties like developers to create the applications the Utilities want. Using APIs to access to the resources of our platform is the way forward for Utilities to create the smart energy and smart home services that will retain their customers according to the User Experience they need to build.

A dedicated website has been created for developers to show the possibilities of our platform. Have a look to our APIs. It’s here available: http://developers.ijenko.com/

Our open platform includes a gateway with a range of standards like Zigbee, Zwave, Wireless Mbus etc. This offers a wide ecosystem of Home Area Network devices manufacturers.  This represents a great asset to build up smart home and smart energy services for the residential market.

Fog & Cloud Computing is Key for smart home and smart energy services 

IJENKO has made quite soon the choices requiring real-time responses. For Energy services and Home automation one cannot rely only on the Cloud even if it is right to use it for aggregating data. However, an intelligence in the home with a software gateway was for us a prerequisite to deliver Demand Response Services or create Home automation services. Our distributed intelligence architecture is a key differentiator and a guarantee to meet the Quality of Service the Utilities need.

How IJENKO achievements will help the Utilities

Utilities have entered in a process of disintermediation with players like Nest collecting more and more data of their customers. From this, such players will build up additional services in the future worsening their commoditization already underway. The IJENKO platform offers to utilities the tools to fight back and retain the data that will make the difference to the users by providing additional smart energy services based on measured and real-time data.

Event will be held on 28th and 29th of January 2016 in London.
More information from the event  here.

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A developer’s story

10 November 2015
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I met David at a Hackathon. With a mug full of coffee and surrounded by yellow (that was because the event was organized by Direct Energie, a French Utility, which is yellow-branded).

It was about the Smart Home and, naturally, IJENKO was invited, with its set of API, tribe of engineers and the marketing team. We spent a wonderful weekend, and we had a few VIPs to distribute the awards.

And since, whenever I have a nice demo to prepare for the European Utility Week exhibition, I call David.

Last year, he worked on an amazing application where the Philips HUE was monitored by gestures captured by the Microsoft Kinect, and the nest thermostat interacting with other thermostats through an Android watch. It was very entertaining for our visitors on the booth, and for sure, they came this year to see us again, and, who knows, have fun.

This year, I could not do something other than ask David to implement an app for the Apple Watch. That’s not the big news. The big news is that we launched our brand new developers’ site: http://developers.ijenko.com/, and soon you can try it for yourself as David did.

It has been years since the IJENKO platform launched an API. We are not newcomers. We had feedback from our customers, we learned from the ups and downs, and now we are making it best-in-class. The vision explains the reason we are “functionality-centric” and not “device-centric”, plus the whys & hows of working on semantics and grammar of a Smart Home Data model. That alone took us weeks and even more sleepless nights before we settled the choices, but it was riveting and that is when you understand why brainstorming and innovation are the best you can get from working in a start-up.

Once you go through the blabla (but interesting) thing, you can discover the resources (the places, the functionalities, the programs, etc.) and have a look at the API services. Everything you need to build a nice end-user application is there. And you know what? You can do it, as the French say, “finger in the nose”. David can tell you why.

So, what does this Apple watch app do? In one click or by a simple voice command it launches a set of scenes: you click “Dinner” and the Philips HUE switches on blue, the T° is set to 21°C and the Sonos starts playing. And when you say “I am leaving now”, everything switches off and the T° is decreased to help you make savings.

No big deal? Well, to do that David had to use only 3 services of the API: One to get authentication, the other to create the 2 scenes, and the last to launch a scene triggered by the user. And whenever that happens, only 2 calls to the API are necessary: authenticate and launch a scene. An app made in 1 day, another day to work on the look & feel and the customer experience. The same app can be used to do infinite scenarios: “Dinner” can also trigger security for the basement; “Leaving” launch it for the whole house, in addition to the music and heating stuff. So imagine you build an app in 2 days and leave the end-user to do the rest and being happy doing so.

That was possible because we spent most of our time working on nest and HUE integration, implementing HTTP requests to be sent to the Sonos, and having our gateway dealing with local IP and non-IP interactions, and HAN-to-Cloud connectivity (for e.g. to get to the nest cloud). And that is not the end of it. More and more to come.

That is the best we can do: make it simple, make it fast, and you will know it as soon as it is available.

Now, go have a look, learn and enjoy!


See more about David : davidpoulin.com

For more info : rchatila@ijenko.com or contact@ijenko.com

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