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Consortium for digital energy infrastructure formed

New Energy Finance has announced the first Charter Members of the Consortium on Digital Energy (CoDE), which aims to create a converged perspective on the development of tomorrow’s digital energy infrastructure.

The Charter Members are Duke Energy, Elster, eMeter Corporation, National Grid, GridPoint Inc, Intel, Philips, Telecom Italia, Vodafone Group, Imperial College London, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Risø DTU.

The CoDE addresses the need to integrate distributed, renewable, intermittent capacity to the world’s energy system. Plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles are beginning mass penetration and consumers are demanding unprecedented control over their energy use.

With this, there are new types of data to manage on carbon footprints, liberalised pricing, resources and usage patterns. New Energy Finance predicts that in the next 10-20 years, and in some areas much sooner, the world’s energy infrastructure will undergo transformation similar to that which has rippled through the media and telecommunications industry.

“We’ll be looking at key issues such as: Who owns the data? Who is responsible for making it secure? How will it be moved around or stored? Will all this be done by energy utilities, telephone companies or software companies? How should players in the energy industry prepare themselves for this future? Are there ways for new entrants to build powerful franchises?” says New Energy Finance Chairman and CEO Michael Liebreich.

Need for smart grid

Political and policy events have brought the smart grid to the forefront of political and economic debate. President Obama has placed the smart grid at the heart of his economic stimulus programme. In Europe, the debate has been around the urgency of adding high voltage DC transmission to connect offshore wind and other renewable sources.

However, Liebreich believes that the full implications of moving to a digital energy infrastructure have not yet been grasped by industry, regulators and policy-makers: “What we have seen in Germany, Spain and Denmark is that you can pump 5-10% clean energy into the current grid infrastructure without it falling over. Beyond that, however, you have to make significant changes. There is no way of achieving 20% renewable energy by 2020, or 50% cuts in carbon emissions by 2050 without changing the way we distribute and control energy in the economy beyond recognition. The opportunities go far beyond the current energy infrastructure players. The challenge is huge, but the countries that figure it out first will be selling products and services for decades.”

The CoDE research effort, which will run for one year, will focus on mapping the future digital energy infrastructure under alternative evolutionary scenarios. It will identify the likely winning business models, potential bottlenecks in policy, technology and supply chain as well as determine the opportunities for third party investment. It will include two senior management workshops, and results will be presented at the third New Energy Finance Summit in March 2010.

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Energy efficiency  •  Energy infrastructure  •  Energy storage including Fuel cells  •  Green building