Post Interview Crowd balancing November 1, 2022

Jens Strüker – Professor for Information Systems and Digital Energy Management


Prof.dr. Jens Strüker is Professor for Information Systems and Digital Energy Management at the University of Bayreuth and holds a leading position at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology (FIT). The research he does together with his team focusses on how digital technology can improve the energy system.

What is the ambition for your organisation in relation to the energy transition?

The energy transition is the core topic in our everyday business, as we try to actively shape this transformation. Digital technologies give us degrees of freedom to reduce CO2 emissions. Decarbonisation through digitalisation will help us to create a real-time energy economy. Ultimately, we want to enable the industry and consumers to make informed decisions and actively take part in this energy system.

Which role do consumer-owned devices play in the future electricity landscape?

Though individual devices may be small in size, they can have a huge impact because of their numbers. As a result, aggregation of consumer-owned devices offers a huge potential of flexibility.
The challenge we face is that today’s energy system is still not digitally integrated. There are big digital gaps that must be bridged if we want to integrate consumers and the industry in the energy system. That means building end-to-end connections and creating incentives for bringing devices like PV-panels, heat pumps, cars, and home batteries online. Consumers and the industry must be able to easily switch between roles, i.e. between consuming electricity from the grid, consuming electricity you have locally generated and supplying the generated electricity to different markets. This can be automated, using CO2 intensity as the driver for change. Trust plays a key role in this: devices must be able to prove who they are, what they have done and what they are doing. With millions of consumer-owned devices already out there and many more to come, this too is a highly complex challenge for which digitalisation can provide answers.

It is my ambition to bring together all the devices that are currently islands and integrate them in the energy system

How should organisations prepare for the required change?

Organisations already need CO2 information, for instance to meet regulations or fulfil ESG obligations. But in the future electricity landscape they will need more data, and data of a higher level of granularity. The more precise and timelier, the better. This will enable organisations to manage their CO2 obligations more effectively and make the necessary adjustments. Organisations need to prepare for this.

What effect does the current geopolitical situation have on the energy transition?

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, reducing our dependency on fossil fuels was not really an urgent goal. Now we are having to reduce our dependency much, much quicker than planned. As Al Gore put it: we are in the early stages of a global sustainability revolution, with the scale and impact of the industrial revolution, at the speed of the digital revolution.
In my opinion, we need to make the shift from energy efficiency to carbon efficiency. And that is why it is so important to integrate all those millions of consumer-owned devices.

What is the biggest change we will have accomplished by 2035?

We need to address the dilemma posed by data sovereignty. We must strike a balance between protecting one’s own data and sharing more data with each other, to work better together. There are promising solutions for this, such as using data spaces to share data and self-sovereign identity (SSI) to manage device identity. The two combined can help us solve this problem by 2035. But we need to work on it right now.

What does the energy transition mean for you personally?

The energy transition is central to my life. It is my ambition to bring together all the devices that are currently islands and integrate them in the energy system. And it is my role as a scientist and scholar to educate people about this and help them communicate with each other on the subject.
In an ideal world, the European and national levels would work more closely together on system integration. There are excellent initiatives and examples on both levels but there is still much work to be done to bring them all together.

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