Fresh Energy, a digital project of the innogy Innovation Hub, has been working on a deceptively simple and smart idea. How about a monthly power bill that tells you which appliance in your household consumes the most power? Which would motivate you to save power every month? And immediately identify the true power guzzlers?
Fresh Energy has taken these ideas on board – in the form of a new energy solution consisting of smart meter and smartphone app. Daniel von Gaertner at the innogy Innovation Hub developed the idea and set up the project in May 2016 and only a few months later worked with the Hub team, RWE IT and strategic partners ‘discovergy’ and eprimo to bring it to market as a pilot project.
“When you talk to people these days about how much power they consume, most of them don’t know what they pay for which amount of power”, says von Gaertner, who is now managing the launch of Fresh Energy as the product manager: “Power consumption and power bills are a complete black box for many customers.” While for other things, like mobile phone accounts, bills come in on a monthly basis with a detailed breakdown of all the costs involved, electricity customers have to make do with advance payments based on estimated usage and an annual statement of account.
100% transparency – the Fresh Energy claim
Fresh Energy wants to offer more and take the first step towards becoming a digital energy service provider: “Our customer interface is completely digital and app-based”, says von Gaertner: “We want to make power consumption transparent and explain to customers how much power they are using, what they are using it for and where they might be using too much of it.” This degree of transparency will help customers make conscious power savings.
Here's how Fresh Energy works
When they sign up for a green-power contract with Fresh Energy, which can be cancelled on a monthly basis, customers get free installation of an intelligent power meter or “smart meter”. It tracks exactly how much power they use in their home each month, so when they get their monthly bill, they pay only for the power they have actually consumed and no flat-rate amounts. Assuming, for instance, they are away for an extended period in the summer holidays and all their household appliances except the fridge run on standby mode, they may end up paying next to nothing on their power bill for one month of the year.
In addition, the smart meter tells customers how much energy their individual appliances need. How does it do it? Well, the individual electrical appliances leave “footprints” in the power consumption picture. At least in the case of big power consumers, like the washing machine, fridge or clothes dryer, the Fresh Energy algorithm can trace with great accuracy how much energy they consume when they are running. So customers can tell from their monthly power bill, via their smartphone app or computer, where the real culprits in the household lie. And they can then think about replacing an “old faithful” with a more energy-efficient appliance.
As a third step in the development process, von Gaertner wants customers to benefit from the intelligent electricity grid of the future. The Fresh Energy smart meter will anticipate power prices over the next few days and hours based on consumption and weather patterns, adjusting household power consumption accordingly and thus saving customers a great deal of money. According to von Gaertner, it would work like this: “You tell your system: ‘Let the washing machine run today when the power price is cheapest. But the washing should be done by 7 pm’. The systems would then automatically optimise their own consumption in line with the electricity production cost of that particular day.”
In order to get there, Fresh Energy will need to be put through what the product manager refers to as more “innovative paces”. Join the movement and journey with us – it will be an exciting ride and make a real contribution to private transformation of the energy industry!
The innogy Innovation Hub
The innogy Innovation Hub is all about developing digital business models. Disruptive or revolutionary problem-solving approaches are fundamentally changing the rules of entire industries and the energy sector is no exception. So the innogy Innovation Hub is driving the transformation of innogy from a classic energy utility into a customer-led solution provider. In doing so, it deliberately leverages the benefits of international networking and collaboration with external partners like start-ups. As a result of this constant drive for innovation, many projects emanating from the Hub are pilots with bright prospects but no guarantee of longevity.