HOT|COOL NO. 3/2018 - "Digitization"



By Søren Berg Lorenzen Head of Planning – Energy, Frederiksberg Forsyning

At Frederiksberg Forsyning, a large utility company in the Danish capital, we believe that digitalization of our supply systems is a very important answer to the constant demands for a more efficient and environmentally friendly operation of district heating and water supplies.

But this is to some extent also a weakness, as you will probably not notice if your heating system is not running as efficiently as it could. Your house or apartment will stay warm, even though the return temperature is too high. Even a motivation tariff, where you are charged extra for too high a return temperature, will often not lead to the expected action – instead the customers just pay the extra tariff, month after month, year after year. Why is this? One answer could be that time has become a valuable resource. In a busy everyday life, spending time on your heating system is not a top priority. What people are really looking for is time, peace and quiet. AN OCEAN OF DATA – A SEA OF OPPORTUNITIES In 2017, Frederiksberg Forsyning installed a Smart City network, providing us with Wifi-coverage in all parts of our distribution systems. In combination with district heating and water meters which can all be remotely read, this means that we can now get a very detailed real-time picture of what is going on in our networks and even at every single customer. We can, in theory, read the flow and temperatures on the primary side of every single one of our approximately 4,300 district heating substations, servicing 105,000 citizens and nearly 5,000 businesses in the Danish municipality of Frederiksberg. All this data can provide very detailed insights into the operations of the different utilities – water, district heating and district cooling. Data is the foundation on which we can continue to increase the efficiency and lower the prices while maintaining or even increasing the quality (i.e. security) of supply. But howdowemake themost of all these data? At Frederiksberg Forsyning, we are currently giving this a great deal of thought, and even though this process is not done yet, some ideas and conclusions have already revealed themselves.

Today’s utility companies, like Frederiksberg Forsyning, are met with demands for an ever-increasing efficiency in the daily operations – from customers, regulators/politicians and society. Prices are expected to decrease as is the environmental impact, while the quality of service (security of supply) must remain high. This could seem like, if not a threat, then at least a challenge to the utility company, its management and employees. At the same time, the innovation and technological developments continue at a very high pace, especially within sensors and IT solutions. This is definitely an opportunity and could well be one of the keys for meeting the demands and expectations described above.

A happy customer with his brandnew substation

WHAT ARE OUR CUSTOMERS (ALSO) LOOKING FOR? One of the bestselling points for a utility scale solution like district heating is that it is in essence a ‘no hassle’ supply. You just turn the valve on your radiator and the room temperature adjusts to the desired level – and it stays there, without you needing to do anything other than paying your bills.

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