Key learnings from Nordic Clean Energy Week 2018 — part 1

Out of an insatiable curiosity about tech development, I attended two of the open invitation events during Nordic Clean Energy Week in Copenhagen and Malmö, namely “Arena: Smart grids — Unlocking the renewable energy future” and “Arena: Green Mobility”. While there were plenty more exciting seminars and even hackathons, these were closest to home, free to attend, and right up my alley. Rather than just expanding my set of notes, I thought I would share my key learnings below.

Smart Grids

“The problem today is that we don’t have a problem, but we know we will have a problem in the future.” — Anna Wolf

This explained the contradiction between the rapid technological development in the field and their apparent uses. The Swedish grid is already supplying mostly green energy and has great reliability, removing pressure to innovate.

A new challenge comes from the modern low power consumption devices that decrease the base load, while certain new type of devices (ex: EVs) increase peak demand. This increased gap between base and peak load came as quite a surprise to me, but was soon followed by some interesting facts presenting a solution:

“If you install a 1kWh battery per apartment, you reduce peak demand by 40%. With 3kWh by 80%.” — Bo Normark, InnoEnergy

As a soon to be owner (well, ok leaser) of a 2018 Nissan Leaf 40kWh, I thought of vehicle-to-grid technologies, being able to use the car’s battery capacity to feed electricity back to the grid during peak demand. Btw: the new Leaf already has this feature, sadly I’m not aware of any commercially available solutions that take advantage of this in Sweden. Back to the point about reducing peak demand, the more households use EVs, the more they could be used to eliminate the issue of peak demand. Of course some incentive system has to be put in place for the car owners, but that is certainly no show stopper. All of this is nicely summed up by:

“If you want to invest in energy storage today, buy an electric car.” — Bo Normark

My summary of the day would be seriously lacking if I didn’t mention The Energy Web ticking all the boxes of a hot technology: democratized, decentralized, digitized, and did I mention blockchain?

I do think such a solution will be crucial further down the line, but it too big a leap from existing systems of today, and so a number of gradual changes will have to precede it.

Nonetheless, I’ll be cheering for EWF until their time comes, and I can replace my meter with an energy web enabled one!

That roughly sums up my insights from the Smart Grids Arena. Part 2 will be about the Green Mobility arena.

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