09.02.2017

5G can pave the way for the digital revolution

According to Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson and distribution grid operator Stromnetz Berlin, 5th generation (5G) communication networks could have a significant impact on the energy sector. The partner companies are examining use cases of the new 5G technology in the power grid as part of the 5Grid project at Adlershof in Berlin – one of the largest technology parks in Europe. They set up a test field for studying the impact of w5G on the energy sector at Adlershof and at the Telekom laboratory in Bonn. The goal is to show how the features of 5G networks can benefit the energy sector.

Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, Group CTO Deutsche Telekom, says: "We will soon be able to provide highly flexible communication networks that can adapt to various user requirements. In addition to reliability and ideal conditions for both short and guaranteed switch cycles, smart grids require high levels of data security and protection. 5G can meet these typical requirements." Distribution network operator Stromnetz Berlin is primarily interested in testing the benefits of 5G in industrial applications. The most important of all infrastructures, the power grid, requires reliability, security and fast data and signal transmission.

Dr. Erik Landeck, Managing Director at Stromnetz Berlin, comments, "Modern, flexible power grids also require modern communication. The condition of network components and smart grid elements as well as switch and control signals need to be transmitted securely and quickly to the right recipients. We have high expectations on this new technology and are excited to be involved and support the development at such an early stage."

Stefan Koetz, Chairman of the Management Board, Ericsson GmbH, adds, "The future success of 5G greatly depends on cross-industry cooperation and development. Together with Deutsche Telekom and Stromnetz Berlin, we have developed a demonstrator for the intelligent networking of devices. In order to illustrate future interconnectivity of electricity producers and consumers, we connected a solar energy plant and a chiller and integrated these into Ericsson's IoT platform." The values of smart grid elements are recorded and processed on site. Each element is also controlled on site so that there is no need to send measured values to central databases for further processing.

So far the test results have shown how 5th generation communication networks can be adapted to the requirements of electricity grids undergoing conversion. Thanks to their high performance capability, flexibility and proposed cost efficiency, 5G networks could become a major force behind the shift in energy policy in Europe. This shift is posing considerable challenges to society. As can be seen in the increased generation of wind and solar energy, the pace of this shift in energy policy is exceeding even the most optimistic predictions. With innovation cycles continuing to shorten as well, experts are finding it difficult to accurately predict what the energy sector is going to look like in 20 years. The two megatrends of decentralization and digitization are going to have a particularly powerful impact. We are seeing the increased fusion of telecommunications and power grid infrastructures with both already exhibiting strong interdependencies. The success of the new energy policy depends on digital technologies. Customers, energy producers, devices and systems need to be efficiently connected to optimize this interplay and guarantee reliable energy supply that conserves resources.