Europe seems to have the best of some of life’s finer things. There’s French bread, Swiss chocolate, Italian solar energy…
Wait … solar energy? While we may know Italy more for its pizza and fashion than its power supply, and energy is arguably a necessity rather than a luxury, it’s worth noting that Italy is investing in more than just delicious tomato sauce. According to Smartplanet’s Andrew Nusca, in 2010, Italy jumped to the fourth leading country worldwide in renewable energy investment. And to give more credit to the continent, Germany holds the second place spot, trailing only China.
But while renewables are a crucial component of the clean energy landscape, they have their challenges, and they can’t provide all of the world’s energy answers. Demand-side management remains critical, and as Gaia Gallotti of IDC Energy Insights writes, the quality of Europe’s demand response programs pales in comparison to its world-class cuisines.
According to Gallotti, Europe’s demand response programs are, at present, “immature.” Much of the discussion so far has centered on smart meters, which alone “are NOT demand management,” she writes.
“Smart meters are an enabler of demand management, but by themselves are insufficient to grant the successful execution of demand response programs,” Gallotti says. We couldn’t agree more: a successful demand response program requires the integration of hardware, software, and services.
The EU is heading in the right direction, though. Gallotti discusses the recent launch of the EU’s Smart Energy Demand Coalition (SEDC), an industry group which focuses on enhancing the role of demand side management in achieving Europe’s Smart Grid solutions. The SEDC launch event in Brussels did include a great deal of smart meter talk, but participants also acknowledged that “Smart Grids are only 50% technology, while the other 50% is Intelligent Participation,” Gallotti said.
The SEDC aims to facilitate intelligent participation in the Smart Grid across Europe in part by pushing for a regulatory framework that supports and encourages the proliferation of demand response. Basically, Europe needs the type of action we just saw from the FERC on our side of the pond: a policy move that gives demand response market parity with energy generation and thereby incentivizes investment in demand side management.
We’re excited to see a EU that’s primed for more demand response as Comverge moves to increase its international reach. With the right supports in place in Europe for demand response, we can help bring to the European market the increased automation Gallotti says is critical to effective demand response. We’ve got the platform, and we’re ready to share it to spur demand management’s European maturation.