In 1882, Thomas Edison opened the world’s first commercial electric grid. What if we could modernize it? That is what the city of Mannheim, Germany, is doing.
Germany has developed extensive local renewable energy production, however renewable energy sources are not always available when and where needed.
In order to match energy supply with demand, the city of Mannheim implemented a broadband power line technology to transmit consumption and supply data over the power grid itself. The system allows adjustment of energy supply, so that energy is consumed where it’s produced and when it’s available.
Thomas Wolski, head of the “Model City of Mannheim» project, said that the power grid can become a brain for the city.
In Manheim, every house is connected to the smart energy network. The existing grid has been turned into a communication platform by adding modems of the nodes of the network.
“Now, we have data available everywhere. We can send control data from the utility to remote places and information back from the meters, from measurements devices about power quality, about the current status of the grid.» said Wolski.
Each house has its own «Energy Butler», which consists in a small box that monitors how much power people use, when they’re boiling the kettle or watching a movie. The generated data can be used to make the most of variable tariffs, programming appliances to turn on at times when renewable energy is plentiful, and prices are therefore lower.
According to Wolski, technology can work anywhere in the world, and with the technology in place, the future of the cities can just be a little brighter.