Nowaczewski: From the perspective of Checkpoint Charlie

Last week I took part in conference titled „Energy Security with Renewables” with participation from European Commission, science institutes and energy companies. We have discussed about European climate policy, transition from traditional energy into modern energy with increasing share of renewable energy sources, energy storage and incentives for active energy consumers. I’ve voiced my support for Elon Musk and other leaders of new wave in energy. Workshops were located in DIW headquarters in Berlin, next to Checkpoint Charlie – historic border control between West and East Berlin.

What struck me was unity between participants when it came to conclusions, for example the confirmation of radical change of rules on which traditional energy is based. The roles of entities such as Distribution System Operators are changing. Building new power plants based on renewables is not economically viable without support from state budget, but neither are traditional coal power plants. The risk of increasing energy prices for consumers is rising, especially during the hours of the day with low generation from renewables. Soon, millions of electric cars will drive on European roads. Implementing changes in energy requires more care than implementing changes in telecommunications.

In my opinion, you can find a lot of analogies in history of telecom when it comes to changes to which energy is subjected. Before year 2000 the offer of telecommunication companies based strictly on analogue voice coms and lease of copper wires. New products based on fibre optics, wireless GSM transmitters won with traditional phone chained to a table with copper wire.

Similarly, traditional contracts for electricity will lose with offer for new products, where energy is just one of the parts of the contract. During the conference I especially remembered the words of Catherine Michell – who told about building new relations between energy companies and their clients. Initiative can be taken by companies named Distributed Service Platform Providers. DSPP will provide service of real-time optimization of consumed energy (as an option also by using energy storage). DSPP will offer all important components of traditional actors of the energy market and will complement its offer with innovative services such as integrating the logic of electric car charges with office building or shopping mall infrastructure. Operator of such facility can provide energy for a large number of electric vehicles without the need to raise the contracted maximum power limit. For interested people I recommend article published on Greentechmedia website.

Standing last week next to Checkpoint Charlie I realised that both on east and west side of the border we are only at the beginning of the quiet revolution in energy. We should prepare ourselves by studying our neighbour’s experiences. In the whole world energy companies are trying to find themselves in this new reality. In the race for customers we are accompanied by new competitors such as telecoms and trendy corporations such as Google or Apple. Should we join the marathon?