One interesting Smart Grid application is known as “energy breakdown,” or figuring out how much energy each appliance in your house uses. However, most energy breakdown methods depend on installing hardware in every house, which is hard to scale. This research video by my interviewee Nipun Batra (from IIIT Delhi) talks about how to scale energy breakdown using algorithmic methods. A short and interesting watch!
On August 28, I headed to Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg to meet with Sabine Reinecke, then a Ph.D. candidate (and now a post-doc) in the Chair of Forest and Environmental Policy. Her work examines climate change and biodiversity governance, in particular the interactions between different governance settings. During our meeting, we talked about various strategies for understanding environmental governance interactions. For context, we drew upon two of her studies: (1) an analysis of the REDD+ Partnership, an independent transnational exchange platform beside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and (2) a case study analysis of climate science and policy in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UK.
On September 4, I met with Professor Antonello Monti at RWTH Aachen University. Prof. Monti directs RWTH’s Institute for Automation of Complex Power Systems, working on topics such as monitoring and distributed intelligence for Smart Grids. He was also the technical manager for FINESCE, an EU-funded project running from 2013-15 that developed an open-IT infrastructure for Smart Grid-related applications. Prof. Monti and I sat down for an interview, and he also gave me a tour of his lab.
On September 10, I Skyped with a researcher at the Institute for Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN) at RWTH Aachen University. His work applies agent-based simulations, or models of interacting autonomous actors (“agents”) with encoded needs and/or preferences, to energy-related problems. He’s co-authored a number of papers in this area, including one on German biomass plant installation and one on the spread of solar PV systems in Italy. He is also working on projects involving techno-economic analyses of large energy systems and pricing/regulation in power markets. We talked primarily about the merits and limitations of agent-based modeling for Smart Grids and renewable energy.
On March 15, I Skyped with Dr. Klaus Kubeczko, a researcher at the Austrian Institute of Technology. As mentioned on his profile, Dr. Kubeczko studies research, technology, and innovation policy, with “a strong interest in socio-ecological-economic transitions and system innovations for sustainable development.” He is also the Operating Agent for the International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN)’s Smart Grid Transitions Annex, which is why we first met. Dr. Kubeczko told me about some of his projects and gave me his insights on European and global Smart Grids.
On April 11, I met with Dr. Kaoru Yamaguchi at the Institute of Energy and Economics Japan (IEEJ). Dr. Yamaguchi is a Senior Research Fellow and Assistant Director of IEEJ’s New and Renewable Energy & International Cooperation Unit. He also moderated a panel on the Integration of Smart Grids and Renewables at the International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) Public Workshop in Yokohama last month. Dr. Yamaguchi shared some of his thoughts on Japanese Smart Grids and Smart Communities with me.
On September 2, I met with Jennifer McIntosh, Head of Secretariat at the International Solar Energy Society (ISES). ISES is a global membership organization of researchers that, as stated on its website, “works to achieve 100% renewable energy for all, used efficiently and wisely, by providing the global renewable energy community with a collective, scientifically credible voice and up-to-date information gathered and synthesized by its talented members.” I met Ms. McIntosh at the organization’s headquarters in Freiburg.
Ms. McIntosh told me that ISES is just starting to bring Smart Grids into its fold, since Smart Grids become important as renewables scale up. In order to advance the global transition to a 100% renewable energy world, Smart Grids are an important area of focus. In particular, smaller grids can play an important role in not only increasing energy access but creating efficient and reliable networks of decentralized renewable energy. While many emphasize the necessity of building large scale “renewable energy highways” of power lines running from north to south, local approaches that give power to the people are already feasible and working. Community-owned renewable energy brings in stakeholders beyond the big energy companies and minimizes the losses that come with transporting power long distances. For these approaches, Smart Homes, storage, power-to-gas techniques, and other large infrastructural changes become necessary. Ms. McIntosh pointed out that we’ve gone through such large infrastructural changes before — specifically, when transitioning from buggies to combustion engine-driven transport — so we can do it again.
On September 1, I Skype-interviewed Chelsea Tschoerner. Ms. Tschoerner is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Freiburg, studying sustainable mobility in Munich. She told me quite a bit about Munich and its interesting constellation of actors. We then discussed how lessons from her work apply more generally to sustainability policy research.
On October 1, I interviewed Wolfgang Teubner of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. Mr. Teubner is ICLEI’s Regional Director for Europe and Managing Director of the ICLEI European Secretariat. I originally met him at the S3C Final Conference and was delighted to interview him one-on-one (via Skype) a week later.