T-City Impacting The Way Europe Looks At Smart Grid

Posted on June 27th, 2011 by

Nana Lohmanns of T-Systems discusses his company’s findings from the German smart grid community, T-City.

Full Transcript:

Ben Lack : I’m here with Nana Lohmanns of T-Systems. Thanks so much for being with us today.
Nana Lohmanns: It’s a pleasure.
Ben Lack : You were based in Germany but you guys have a U.S. based office. Can you tell us a little bit about the company for those who don’t know?
Nana Lohmanns: T-Systems is the ICT service provider for Deutsche Telekom Group. Deutsche Telekom Group is the German’s largest telecommunications provider operating in about fifty countries, and has 250,000 employees. T-Systems is focusing on ICT, so it basically provides IT and communications services, dynamic services, energy services, cloud-based services, and operates in more than twenty countries world-wide.
Ben Lack : As it relates to the energy services side of things, talk to us a little bit about some of the problems that the company has chosen to tackle, and what some of those solutions might look like on the big picture.
Nana Lohmanns: On the picture, T-Systems basically started out in the energy area with building a smaller metering solution for the German market, which is characterized quite strongly by privacy and security concerns. We’ve taken the experience that we have out of the communication industry and set-up a smart metering service offering, basically. We started to do this in, approximately, 2007, starting to build up T-City Friedrichshafen where we’ve faced, at that time, quite some specific problems that we were forced to build a specific solution to.
Ben Lack : Talk to us a little bit about what the T-City project is all about.
Nana Lohmanns: T-City is a corporation with the City of Friedrichshafen, in Germany and Bavaria where Deutsche Telekom has partnered with the municipality in order to invest elaborate new technology, among others, IPTV. Since 2007, T-City has been utilized for implementing smart metering, smart grid, and general smart technology service. We, as T-Systems, have been building a smart metering platform, multi-utility, and sub-metering, and cooperative; and grown these into little smart grid applications, where we’ve basically implemented demand-response requirements with partners, which are power plant requirements; done some economical research on feasibilities and market values of applying smart metering or smart grid or demand-response overture power plants in the German market.
Ben Lack : But in the end of the day, it’s really more of a test case to see what types of technology are working in order to get findings for what those outcomes are, yes?
Nana Lohmanns: It is basically a laboratory where we are taking the technology that we developed and make proof of concepts, evaluate it in real-life condition because it’s with real families who are basically using these day by day and ensuring that all systems are working and that we can take the knowledge that we gain there into applying into other environments.
Ben Lack : Can you give us some insight into some of the findings that your team has been able to acquire based on what’s going on so far in T-City?
Nana Lohmanns: There have been several findings. For example in the area of smart metering, we’ve been into the topic of data privacy and data security quite a lot. We’ve seen that a lot of the common solutions that we’ve initially trialled would not meet the strict security requirements of Deutsche Telekom with the Global Group Security doing penetration testing and physical testing on all entities. Another finding that we’ve made basically is that for the T-City scenario, where we’re acting as manage communication service provider, it has been quite useful to build up an architecture base around an aggregated concept with meters that only act as communication enabled metrolic units. In Germany, we’re faced with several very complex building types where we have a lot of, first of all, sub-metering, second of all, apartment buildings, large-scale buildings. We have distributed meters and several entities living in one central building. In order to facilitate communication efficiency, you have to create a solution that, in the optimal case, will combine several different parties of families in one house, and manage this communication. Compared to the U.S., as far as my understanding of U.S. market is, the dominance here is individual households. The next part in Germany is also predominantly around billing. Germany is a country which has over 98% post-payments. Pre-payments is not something that have been existing and yearly built. Bills in Germany, traditionally, only have been sent out once a year.
Ben Lack : What do those implementation procedures look like? How do you move the ball going forward?
Nana Lohmanns: Once we got to moving the ball forward, the architecture concept that we’ve implemented in T-City is based about trying to connect to any kind of meter that is enabled for communication. Something that we’re currently working on is utilizing this architecture and enable pre-payment without making any physical modifications on the system installed. Basically, implying that you can utilize the meter that you currently have implemented and use more telecommunications like pre-payment functionality in order to manage top-up and credit accounts hauling in a remote system, and utilize existing infrastructure to set-up pre-payment.
Ben Lack : Why does this industry interest you? Why are you choosing to give your time and effort in the energy sector?
Nana Lohmanns: First of all, I do believe that it’s a really, really exciting industry, which is stunning in the brink of some major transformations. Transformations that you can probably compare to the early state of the Internet, basically combining and introducing bi-directional communication into the infrastructure, and with that implementing ICT, implementing process changes, implementing new features and functionalities and also posing some completely new questions, which will give you major new operations in this industry. From my personal perspective, it’s quite exciting to be part of this evolution. And being in the position with T-Systems, Deutsche Telekom to take influence on what is going to happen and make the system a better system. What is really, really exciting to be able to work for a company that is not only focusing on one part of the entire solution, that is also not only a service provider selling some consultancy service, but really having the capabilities of going into each dimension of the new changes and problems coming up. I do believe that that is really, really, really exciting.
Ben Lack : Nana, thanks so much for your time today. I really appreciate it. Best of luck with you on moving forward with some of the objectives, and we look forward to staying in touch.
Nana Lohmanns: Thank you. It has been a pleasure.

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