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Digitization of the Energy Industry

Platform-Based Services for the Smart City

Decarbonization Requires Digitization of the Energy Industry
Digital Transformation
Artificial Intelligence

Today, more than 56% of the world's nearly 8 billion people live in cities - and the trend is rising. Digitizing urban living spaces consistently and thus decarbonizing them would have far-reaching effects. However, smart cities can only become a reality if decentralized energy generation and consumption in all sectors can be made transparent and intelligently controlled through far-reaching digitization.

Challenges for the Energy Industry

Digitization, new business models and a resulting increase in data volumes are irreversibly changing the energy industry. IT systems will therefore have to become radically more flexible in the future to enable companies to achieve maximum agility and cost efficiency. Two elementary conditions must also be met in the digitization of smart cities. First, the systems used must be able to process very large volumes of data. Second, the systems will have to process different types of data, which will also come from a wide variety of data sources and arrive via different communication channels.

Example Power Consumption Measurement

Until now, meters have been read once a year for most consumers. A single smart metering system (iMSys), on the other hand, delivers more than 35,000 quarter-hourly values and much more information every year. In the future, millions of iMSys will collect metering data - on the consumer side as well as on the generation side. The digitization of consumption measurement has also begun in the other utility sectors with short-cycle meter reading and deep consumption analysis. 

On the other hand, it is necessary to digitally process diverse status and movement data originating from sensors in the urban area and in buildings. Application examples for this are: 

Intelligent charging station and parking space management 
Air quality monitoring 
Condition monitoring of plants 
Fill level monitoring of waste and residual material containers 
Traffic flow management 
Leakage monitoring 
Building monitoring 

On the one hand, the data to be processed originates from legally regulated energy industry processes that must be processed via market communication in EDIFACT format, and on the other hand from the megatrend world of the Internet-of-Things (IoT). The smart meter gateway, the highly secure communication unit of the smart metering system, couples both worlds and will therefore also be of central importance in the context of the smart city. In the future, immense amounts of data will flow into the back-end systems via the smart meter gateway in a very short time.

Integration and Transparency Create Efficiency and Added Value in the Energy Sector


Smart city managers have a growing data lake to organize. Without Big Data technologies, they will not be able to manage this volume of information and thus will not be able to optimize across sectors. However, if they succeed in linking and evaluating the various data and deriving recommendations for action and control impulses from them, efficiency, benefits and added value will result. On the basis of this newly gained transparency, processes can be optimized and efficiencies leveraged in a way that would otherwise be impossible. The opportunities should be huge and the risks to be assessed manageable. That's why data management in the energy industry and smart city requires intelligent enterprise application integration (EAI), that is, bringing together databases and workflows that are connected to business applications along the entire value chain.  

For example, digitization partners are realizing comprehensive energy, asset and environmental management for the utility industry, as well as for companies of any origin. This means that the carbon footprint of companies becomes digitally transparent in facts and figures. The complete disclosure of energy flows and CO2 emissions by measuring and monitoring generation and consumption is a prerequisite for being able to save energy in a targeted manner or use it rationally. 

However, IT platforms for the digitization of the energy industry are not only the ideal IT tool for the energy transition and smart city because they can manage new business models with mass data capability and evaluate large volumes of data with the help of artificial intelligence. The platform principle also offers many other advantages, such as integration capability with third-party systems, openness in data formats and simple administration. Since IT platforms are usually provided in the cloud, users do not need to worry about system maintenance and administration. This is a great relief for all players involved in the century-long task of energy transition. 

Energy Utilities in Pole Position

The energy industry is at the center of the transformation. Topics such as the management of electromobility, the establishment and operation of virtual power plants, energy plant management for customers and submetering, for example, are close to the very own value creation processes, so it makes a lot of sense to get involved there. In addition, utilities need new business models and the resulting new sources of revenue and profit to cushion the pressure on margins in their core business. In this way, utilities are also automatically approaching those topics that are realized, for example, through IoT-based technologies. 


Energy utilities are becoming the architects and creators of the smart city. IT platforms such as the Arvato Energy Platform are the central basis for this. Smart cities benefit from the digitization of the energy industry - especially in the areas of energy and mobility in a networked, digital world.

Written by

Bernhard Ern
Expert for Utilities