ICT for Sustainability - The Challenge of Making It Real

Rainer Bacher 

Thursday, February 14








ICT for a Sustainable and Secure Electricity Supply System

This keynote talk focuses on ICT innovation necessary for the electricity system of the years 2035 and beyond. The ICT must support solutions to go beyond the EU for reducing greenhouse gases of 20% by 2020: A factor of 4 is envisioned by 2050. ICT must consider the strongly increased involvement of renewable, volatile energy based electricity production which is expected to be approx. 25% of the final consumption by the year 2020 and will go well beyond that level by 2035. Also, ICT must support the electricity system in handling the increased stress and on maintaining the high level of the quality of electricity supply and of the security of the electric system.

In the case of the systems and intelligent electric networks integrating the renewable energies and the flexible electricity consumers, many ICT dependent key drivers have been determined:  The degree and the form of decentralization of the monitoring and control system, the ability to communicate level of intelligence of the involved systems realized by smart products and associated smart services, the legal framework and the associated regulation of market based product and service choices versus natural monopoly products and services, the business rules for actors involved in all aspects of networks and intelligent electric systems.

The challenges will increase by 2035 also due the presence of zero or even positive energy buildings which will – over the year – provide enough renewable based energy to cover the yearly energy demands of their inhabitants. ICT based systems will be necessary to manage the various consumer energy dependent needs during nights, when PV cells are not producing electricity and when hydro power is scarce or when planned power is not available for unforeseen reasons in second time intervals. Storage – both bulk in the mountain regions and also distributed for example in batteries – will be a key SmartGrids element managed by the right ICT. Also, the coordinated use of electric vehicles with their need of a fast charging process both at home and away from home must be fundamentally considered.

ICT based solutions must contribute to the evolution of electricity systems towards an “Internet of Electricity”. In such a system, every electricity production site, any electricity, heat or consumer with mobility requirements, every site of energy conversion and power transformation and of storage might be considered a user in this “internet of energy”. In such a system users can act individually or in market based, aggregated business entities using standardized ontologies for communication to achieve common economic, environmental, security and quality of supply goals. Among others, questions of market power and of equal access to information such as real-time system models, prices, action limited by system constraints and market bids of actors must certainly be considered. Also, the question of who is responsible for provision of energy under abnormal system states and who provides the decision making information must be fundamentally considered in such a new internet of electricity.

The presentation will discuss these features and show ICT needs on a grid level based system model with one hour time resolution of the future Swiss electricity system.




Rainer Bacher is Managing Director of BACHER ENERGY LTD, in Baden, Switzerland. He got his PhD in Technical Engineering from ETH Zurich and has worked at Control Data Corporation (CDC) in Minneapolis, MN (U.S.A.) and Colenco Power Consulting AG in Baden, Switzerland. Between 1993 – 1999 he was assistant professor for ‘Energy management Systems’ at ETH Zurich. Since 2000 he has been lecturer at ETH Zurich (D-ITET: SmartGrids: Optimization of liberalized electrical energy systems). His research focuses on the following areas: Deregulation of network based systems, optimization, software engineering, algorithmic solution of model based network problems, application of FACTS to increase network capacity, integration of both technical and economical aspects related to networked systems. He has written more than 60 scientific and energy policy papers and held more than 100 public presentations, workshops and tutorials.
Rainer Bacher has worked at the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (Bundesamt für Energie, SFOE) where he was headed the section “Electrical Networks/Grids”. He also was vice-chairperson for the EU SmartGrids Technology Platform Mirror Group as well and for of the IEA (International Energy Agency) Implementing Agreement ENARD (Electricity Network Analysis Research and Development) between 2006 and 2009 as well as energy expert for “Energie Trialog Schweiz” in 2009. He is member of the board of directors of Industrielle Betriebe Brugg (IBB), member of the board of Electrosuisse and advisory expert to the President of the European Technology Platform.

Email: Rainer Bacher  (RainerdotBacheratBacherEnergiedotch)  



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