E.ON, one of Europe’s biggest energy generators, has signed a deal with IBM to move its metering data and management capabilities to the cloud. E.ON owns almost 70 gigawatts of capacity and serves 26 million customers, largely in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
The race is on for big cloud providers to step in and offer utilities cloud based solutions to managing everything from basic meter data to predictive analytics. We’ve seen the early meter data management systems (MDMS) startups like Ecologic Analytics get acquired. But I wonder if the fully integrated IT companies like IBM will be able to offer the most comprehensive suite of solutions for utilities, making it hard for a startup, say, with a novel predictive analytics tool to find a niche.
Germany is interesting in its own right because while it’s the most forward looking and advanced renewable energy deployer, it has no smart metering mandates. In fact, early predictions say only a quarter of the country will have smart meters by 2022, far less than the U.S. or the rest of Europe. With so much renewable power on the grid, the country is going to have to go further into energy storage and will likely miss out on some potential advantages of being able to crunch smart meter data to provide novel forms of energy storage like pre-heating buildings based on predictive analytics that combine weather data with historical smart meter data for a given location.
On the flip side, for critics of smart meters, the absence of a mandate will force metering companies to really prove the value of smart meters to utilities in order to make the sale.